Anti-bullying advocates show film at Fox
By Allison Fields
photo by Tommy Yang
Jamie Nabozny and his partner Jesse Heffernan converse with
audience members in a Q&A session following the "Bullied"
film premiere in the student union Feb. 21.
UW-Fox hosted an anti-gay bullying event in the Student Union Feb. 21.
Students and community members gathered to watch the film "Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History". The film, produced by Alabama's Southern Poverty Law Center, chronicles the story of a student who stood up to his anti-gay tormentors and filed a federal lawsuit against his school district. The suit led to a landmark federal court decision holding that school officials could be held accountable for not stopping the harassment and abuse of gay students.
Attendees participated in a discussion following the film, led by bullying victim Jamie Nabozny.
"Bullied" is based on Nabozny's struggle with anti-gay bullying, which led to the case against his school in Ashland, Wis. The film was created to raise awareness about anti-gay bullying, and to inspire others.
Nabozny visited Appleton East High School earlier that day, and left an impression on junior Markatie Mealy.
"It was really moving and emotional. I feel like it changed a lot of people's minds," Mealy said.
The film showed the progression of Nabozny's bullying, all while school officials did nothing to stop it. Eventually he was hospitalized and could no longer attend school in Ashland.
After the film viewing, Nabozny discussed solutions to overcoming bullying in schools.
"Every single part of our community needs to be involved in dealing with this because every single part of our community is involved in why this is going on," Nabozny said.
He explained that many schools can get in trouble for not knowing what to do.
"The number one reason teachers do not do what they're supposed to do is because they don't know what to do," Nabozny said.
Nabozny then opened the discussion to audience members to provide feedback on the film.
"I was very angry, I think empowered towards the end and I want to make a difference. Enough's enough," Stacey Dudley, a same-sex parent, said.
Anti-gay bullying, and bullying in general, are large, ongoing issues. Many individuals and organizations are finding ways to raise awareness, prevent bullying and help others.
Today, many schools have added Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) to their list of extracurricular clubs.
"What I want the group to do is promote and show our peers, staff and faculty members what's really out there and try to make them more open to the gay and homosexual community," Tommy Yang, president of UW-Fox's GSA, said.
Outside of schools, there are numerous organizations that provide information on bullying, acceptance and tolerance. One such group is Zero Tolerance.
"It's a drama troupe at the Harbor House. We educate our peers, adults and students about bullying and domestic abuse," freshman and troupe member Zoua Her said.
To seek help for bullying, call (920) 832-2697 or visit campus counseling services in room 1309. Sessions are confidential and free for all UW-Fox students.
For more information about joining UW-Fox’s GSA, contact club advisor Pam Massey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meetings are held every Tuesday at 12:10 p.m. in room 1264.