My family will be wearing purple tomorrow, October 20, to show that we stand up to bullying.
Well, three of us will be. One of us will be wearing desert camo like he does everyday.
I talked to each of my kids about just what I felt we were wearing purple for. I told them:
1) We show that we support all kids, gay or straight who are being bullied, feeling left out, or having a hard time. We want those kids to know that we'll listen to them, and stand up for them no matter what.
2) We show that we'll never bully other kids. (I'm not so much worried about that one.)
3) We show that we will never accept anyone bullying us. We know that no one has the right to make us feel bad about ourselves. We will stand up for ourselves to the best of our ability.
And finally 4) We promise that if we are being bullied, we will get help from a trusted adult. We acknowledge that our school has a zero-tolerance for bullying and we will go to a teacher to support a friend or stand up for ourselves if we have to. The kids promise to come to me if they've tried to stand up for themselves and it hasn't worked, and I promise I will do my best to handle the situation without making it worse.
Having this talk with each kid yielded some interesting results.
My daughter was all gung ho about it. We shared some stories of how we've dealt with bullying in the past. And then she started to cry. She was sad for the kids who had killed themselves, but she was upset for her brother too (who had a small run in with a kid recently).
My son asked a bunch of questions. The first of which was, "What does gay mean?"
What? Huh? How did I miss out on that one? My kid with all his gay uncles and living in his gayborhood cul-de-sac? (I was going to call it the gay-de-sac but that sounds bad.)
So I gave him an answer and he said, "Like Matthew and Kevin."
And I said, "Exactly."
Then he wanted to know how those kids had killed themselves. And why.
So they are very on board with wearing purple tomorrow. And even if no one else in the world wears purple, it gave me the opportunity to have this dialog with my kids. And that is totally worth it.
You know, I don't exactly have an "It Gets Better" message. Life has always been pretty damn easy for me. I can't show my support that way. But I can let kids know that there are other kids out there being raised to be accepting and supportive. And I know lots of moms who are doing the same thing.