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October 15th, 2010
10:09 AM ET

"IT WILL GET BETTER"

We get to do some pretty cool things on our show every day, no doubt but it's days like today that we are really proud of. It's days like today where we get to put courageous people front and center–in this case, one courageous person. Gay, straight, black, white, rich or poor–it does not matter, when it comes to the bullying of our world's children to the point where they are hanging themselves or shooting themselves at 11, 12 or 13 years old there is only one position. One.

Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns
took 13 minutes of city time to share a very personal story on
Tuesday night.

It was a risk.
Professionally.
Personally.
But he did it.  He did it for Billy Lucas. He did it for Justin Oberg. He
did it for Tyler Clemente. He did it for Raymond Chase. He did it for 
Zach Carrington. He did it for Seth Walsh. He did it for Asher Brown. He did it for District 9. He did it for his parents. He did it for he and
his husband, JD.

Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns (right) with his husband JD.


Today we applaud Mr. Burns for his message to bullied teenagers
that "it will get better" and to hang on. If you have not heard his
words, you can listen to them above. It is 13 minutes of your life
well spent if you have children, know children or live in a community
where bullying takes place day in and day out people live in silence
around it.  Today Joel joined us to talk about what he said the other
night and why he did it. We wanted to have him on because his
words are so important for everyone beyond the limits of Fort Worth District 9 and the city council meeting to hear. 
Ali Velshi Interviews Ft. Worth Councilman Joel Burns

We invite you to share your thoughts here. Share your thoughts on Ali's Facebook page. Keep the conversation going.  In the meantime, we've put some links below that are great resources in the cause:

The Trevor Project

Family Guide to Dealing with Anti-Gay Harassment

Student Guide to Dealing with Anti-Gay Harassment

Teacher Guide to Dealing with Anti-Gay Harassment

Follow @JoelBurns on Twitter...Talk with children. Join our conversation...


Filed under: Ali Velshi • Anchors • Clips from CNN Newsroom • CNN Newsroom • Mission Possible • XYZ
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Jason Russell

    Adult Bullying

    I live in Cedar Hill Texas. It is 20 minutes from Ft. Worth where an openly gay city councilman came spoke out about bullying.
    I am 36 years old. When I was 33 I ran for City Council in Cedar Hill. I want to express that unfortunately there is adult bullying as well. I still have a letter in my posession that was from a Pastor of a very large church in the metroplex. In this letter I was condemned for who I was. He went as far as to tell people they should not eat at my restaurant because I am gay. My restaurant is in Cedar Hill as well; Panera Bread. This letter was passed out to hundreds of parishoners and community leaders and residents. I can remember towards the end of the election, which went into a runoff, just breaking down and crying to my partner of 14 years. But I refused to quit. Reason being is that if there was possibly some younger gays and lesbians out there I wanted to show that we can't back down. I wanted to set an example that no matter what we move forward and become strong when we are bullied and people are against us. I too was bullied as a youth and it does to an extent continue we we become adults. I keep this letter as I reminder for myself and others to fight against prejudice and bullying of all ages. I feel very strongly about this and give kudos to anyone is can speak out and get his word hear on national circuit. I would love to share this letter with anyone at any time.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  2. matt

    wow, powerful stuff Ali. I can only imagine how Mr. Sanchez would've bumbled his way through this touching news story.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  3. Mary Furnas- Nebraska

    Thank you for stepping up for Gay youth all over the country. You set a beautiful example for young people who are seen in any way as different. We are all different – whether it is being overweight, gay or non-athletic in any way. Our youth need to know it is okay to stand up for themselves and for others. Thank YOU!!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
  4. Debra Sandler

    It is about time I finally see a news channel showing real news. This story should be all over every news station in the world.
    Do more stories like this.
    Thank you, maybe I might start watching CNN more often, if CNN shows stories like this. REAL NEWS.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
  5. marion kapellas

    I was very impressed with the interview with Mr.Burns this morning and it made me cry in frustration. Our children must not be forced to bear this alone. Our schools must educate the other children (The majority, not the minority of the student body) in the schools to stand up for the ones that are being bullied and put an immediate stop to it, so that everyone can go forward. It is not being done and teachers must impress all their students that to protect others is not chicken but powerful..This interview MUST be shown in all schools, the kids will understand it and hopefully act accordingly. thank you for showing this interview..Marion

    October 15, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  6. nick

    I don't expect that you guys will post this but hopefully at least you'll read it. A few days ago CNN showed Afghanistan's minister breaking down and crying. he was labelled MENTALLY-UNSTABLE. What about this guy? Ahhh, it all depends what light you guys want to shine on different subject. if you want it it is honesty if you don't want it then it is mentally- unstable.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  7. geoff, nick and marilyn

    we are all subway employees and as a gay man in society (nick) i am proud of him for what he is doing. it takes a strong man to admit what he is doing. and it is nothing to be ashamed of. thank you for standing up to help.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  8. Pamela Jones

    EVERY BODY is somebody's son or daughter etc.
    Way to go to stand up and say something!!
    Hopefully you hope somebody whether it be a child or an adult.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  9. David

    Ali – Bravo!! Thank you. This is a profound moment in our society today and you have stepped-up to address this hot-button issue...not just for the sake of news, but to help kids, to help those that are being discriminated against, to help stop bullying for any and all reasons. Being gay is a wonderful chance to show the world that different is good, and also that different isn't always THAT different. We have way more in common than not. This makes me want to help! I have much success in life now, but it wasn't always easy, so I'm just another example of how the rough road can and will turn into a smooth one, despite the words and actions of the mis-informed. To all those kids that are struggling, hear this "you have no limits on your life, stick around and discover that...trust me". My thoughts to the families who have suffered such terrible loss. David

    October 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  10. Terry Gibson

    Fantastic story!!! I applaud Joel Burns, CNN, and Ali Velhsi for having the courage to put the story on the air and providing the time to tell the whole story rather than reducing it to a 1 minute story.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  11. Al Campbell

    CNN praises the heroes that we have in our great country. Joel Burns is every bit a hero for what he has done and, I'm sure, what he will continue to do. We need more public figures, more role models and more of the general population to come forward and do the same thing that he did. They are out there.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  12. Dan in Lafayette,IN

    We as Christians should show love for all people but also as Christians we should remind people of their sins and sexual behavior, be it before marriage or with same sex partners is sinning and the parents should teach their children to show love to all people but also let them know not to have sex until you meet the RIGHT person of the opposite sex and get married! If you have a sexual identity problem seek help from a therapist!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  13. Rick

    Mr. Burns, you have just demonstrated one of the greatest displays of courage and even more important unselfishness I have ever seen.
    Thank you for baring your soul and your heart, I'm humbled by your compassion for those who rarely have a voice.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  14. Millie Lucas

    I totally applaud Joel Burns for stepping up to the podium and speaking out. It's the right thing to do. I know he was emotional and this is very personal for him. But he only mentioned gay and lesbian. There are folks in his community who suffer a higher rate of discrimination, harrassment and suicide that he excluded. This isn't about just being homosexual. What about the transgender individuals? I don't know why this exclusion struck me so profoundly. But I think I felt like gay folks do whenever they are left out. I am trans. I am proud. I am a survivor. I stand up for everyone's rights. There are reasons why it's the GLBT community. This isn't just about gay and lesbian issues. Next time include me.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  15. Tamy( Lock)

    What a nice young man. I am sure his story has helped many teens by giving them hope for better days. I know this was extremely hard for him to talk about it but he did it anyway. I commend him for putting others first. God Bless him.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  16. Lynne

    It's incomprehensible to me that people can be so cruel to one another. Obviously, the one doing the bullying has issues within himself – putting others down to elevate himself. So sad!!! I feel it should be mandatory that schools have a "meeting in the gym" to discuss this issue. Not only does the one being bullied need to hear they are loved, but so does the one doing the bullying. How wonderful it would be for speakers such as Joel Burns to share their story. I have this image of it being played throughout this country in all middle schools and high schools on the same day and at the same time. We have school days dedicated to wearing pink for cancer in hopes of saving lives. Why not a couple of days of the school year dedicated to stop the hatred. Perhaps dedicate a color for the day to stop bullying – maybe red (symbolic of love), and allow kids to wear a red shirt for that day. What a powerful statement that would send!!! Who knows, maybe the bully will have a change in heart. And better yet, the one being bullied to be surrounded by this red and know they are loved!

    (Daphne, Al)

    October 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  17. Peter J Buxton

    When a child is going through their teens it is a difficult time for them. Their body is changing as they go through puberty and their hormones are raging and they may not know what to do with them.

    A person that is Gay will have a more difficult time because what they are feeling and what they have been taught gives them allot of conflict. Society has been telling them one thing and they are feeling something different. What they are feeling is something that hasn't been discussed until recently and they haven't had any guidance or direction of what to do with their raging hormones and realizing they are not like what society has been telling them.

    This is why allot of Gay Men & Lesbian Women get married and later in life realize they have been following what society has taught them and they haven't been true to themselves and who they are. It is unfortunate for those who have married; as once they realize who they really are it can destroy their family.

    For the few who realize they are gay at an early age can be really conflicted as to who they really are and what they have been taught. I am glad there is dialogue and help is being offered to the gay teens that are struggling with their identity. For adults that are realizing they are gay, there is help in their community.

    It is a subject that has been gone too long in the dark and not talked about. NOW is the time to have more dialogue to STOP the terrible deaths of the teens who have been bullied, the cost has been too high and the bullying needs to STOP!!

    October 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  18. matt

    does anyone know what time of day on Tuesday Joel gave his speech to the city council?

    October 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  19. Marc Lee Webb

    I am 41 years old and have been through what these children been through. It does get better. Ive been bullied and shoved picked on and thought many times wanted to kill myself.. I finally took my life into my own hands and decided to do this in my early 20's. I now understand it does get better. I wish i could guide every teen through these years of them so they dont have to go through this.But it still goes on right now in the work place and I was let go due to I was gay. They said it was something else. I know there is another job out there, but young teens speak up and tell someone. I was there like you teens and younger. Don't give up , don't give up, Don't give up. WE ALL LOVE YOU OUT HERE. FOR ALL THOSE WHO BULLY AND TEASE, ENOUGH, ENOUGH, ENOUGH, OUR LORD IS LOOKING DOWN ON YOU AND SHAKING HIS HEAD IN SHAME.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  20. Roger Warren

    As weepy as this story is, I feel that it is time to wipe away the tears and in the spirit of Marsha P Johnson, pick up the baseball bats. We as a society must show these miguided and often gay themselves, cowardly bullies that this sort of agressive behaviour is unacceptable an WILL NOT be tolerated. Schools and school districts MUST be held accountable for what happens in their hallways and playgrounds. What has happened in that past is very sad and warrents a tear or two. But, to prevent what is going to happen in the future takes courage and guts. We will never win this fight without throwing a punch. Imagine what would happen if young black children were being harrassed simply for being black in schools across this country. Imagine the repercussion that their teachers, principals and families would suffer as a reslult to their agressions. STOP THE BULLIES AND FIGHT BACK!

    October 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  21. Gail Diaz

    I just want to express my gratitude to Joel Burns for his courageous statements and for standing up for the bullied youth of America and for doing this despite the repercussions he may face. I'd also like to thank CNN for airing this important message to all of us. This is less about being gay than it is about being different. All of us, especially parents, need to teach our children not to tolerate bullies and to speak up when it happens. Understandably, children, especially boys, are afraid to stand up against this because of the repercussions they may face. They don't want to be the target, so it is, in their young minds, easier to join the bullies. The awareness and conversations that will now take place as a result of Joel speaking out and CNN airing this is a huge step in the right direction. Maybe parents will now realize the impact that their own opinions and words have on their children. Parents need to stop fearing that their child could become gay just by being exposed to gay ideas. They need to stop thinking that it is a choice, and realize that it is something that some of us are born with, accept it, and respect the difference.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  22. Philip Denison

    Joel: your speech to the city council was so touching and so badly needed. I am an older gay male who also was bullied in school but like you had parents who stood beside me and loved me for who I was. I served valiantly in the Air Force as an officer for 12 years until I was 'invited' to leave due to the DADT policy. I believe like you that we must have a means so that young people who are dealing with sexual orientation concerns are able to talk to others of us who got through school and bullies to be successful in life. I am very active in Metropolitan Community Church and we are working hard in the community to make a positive difference for others. Please contact me if you do have the opportunity-I know you will be overwhelmed with thousands of email responses.

    Sincerely,
    Phil Denison
    Centerville, Oh

    October 15, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  23. Alisa Whitcomb

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for drawing national attention to this issue! The bullying is in every school, in every town in our nation and somehow seems to be tolerated in the school system. I have a 12 year old daughter bullied to near suicide and our schools need to act now to find a solution to end it. I am so thankful for your coverage on this and hope you will continue to draw attention to this widespread problem.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  24. Mary Jaques

    Ali & your team , I commend you for your coverage of this issue. It isn't often that something this newsworthy gets the attention and time it deserves. That you chose to do so is the way more journalism should be done. It is good that you could show a public servant/politician who spoke up, without political calculation, on an issue that deserves our attention and action. Joel reminds us of the true calling of public service to speak up on issues that we should all focus our attention on.

    October 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  25. Rebecca

    To Ali Velshi,
    I can't thank you enough for sharing Joel's story.
    He should be commended for sharing his experience. And so should YOU and everyone at CNN for giving his very important story a much wider audience.
    Joel's story will surely save many lives. And with your help, that number has increased tenfold at least!
    Kudos!

    October 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  26. Roxanne

    Thank You Joel!!!!!

    October 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  27. Larry Ponder

    I just watched this, even though it has passed before my eyes numerous times in the past few days. Many of us have stories we need to share. IT DOES GET BETTER.

    I was first picked on in 4th grade, came home with a busted bloody lip for the first time in 5th grade. Was jumped and attacked in 10th grade and was repeate...dly verbally abused in class in 11th grade while the teacher was in the room and remained silent. I was determined not to be the gay boy everyone around me accused me of being.

    For good or bad, I did not admit to myself fully that I was gay and could do nothing about it until I was 35 years old and that is the first time I used those words outloud about myself.

    Being the real me is far better than pretending or hiding. While the days between 4th and 11th grade were awful awful awful. The severity of harassment and abuse mostly is gone now that I am an adult.

    It does get better! Please share your stories freely.

    October 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  28. Janet Horton

    The launching of my new book "Because, It's Just Good Manners!" is scheduled for next week to coincide with Freedom from Bullies Week. Will you be interested in placing a link on our website to show your support against abuse and bullying – bad manners? The launch will include a challenge to students to practice good manners for one week. Businesses and families will be challenged to "bully" schools to participate. October is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the YWCA Week without Violence is October 16-22, 2010, and the BigMarch Against Bullying is scheduled for November 15, 2010.

    Book will be a free download from our website.

    October 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  29. Scott Mattson

    Thank you, Joel!!!

    October 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  30. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife

    And what happens if people have different opinions with certain aspects of this post?

    October 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  31. iveyink

    Please, please recognize Dan Savage as the originating point of this wonderful movement. Thank you for acknowledging the bravery of Councilman Burns.. but also acknowledge the indignant, problem-solving rage of Mr Savage. People – add your voice! This is a message that NEEDS to be heard!

    http://www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject

    October 15, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  32. Kelly Frank

    Feel free to express them– we welcome that as long as it is respectful.

    October 15, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  33. Kim

    Step By Step...Whitney Houston to ya ! Thanks for the insight and sharing that Joel. Pick on anybody on this team being a bully and look out,cause the whole team will be looking for you with team spirit. Use your manners and respect life style differences. Being you and unique as different, makes the world go round, then it's not boring.

    October 15, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  34. barefoot_med_student

    This is amazing. I do wish that more people would speak out like this.
    On my campus, homosexual individuals tend to continue hiding themselves. I always think that maybe if only one person spoke out, on the record, we could start the road to recovery.
    By the way, some of you may be interested: on 20 October many people all over the world will be wearing purple in solidarity with gays who have been discriminated against for their sexuality.

    October 15, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  35. circumcisionwisdom

    "Ahhh, it all depends what light you guys want to shine on different subject. if you want it it is honesty if you don't want it then it is mentally- unstable."

    Great point.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  36. Mavis Mathews

    I was intrigued by this public confessional which I stumbled upon.

    If it helps anyone, it was worthwhile.

    October 16, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  37. Trevor

    thank u Ali 4 sharing Joel's story

    October 16, 2010 at 6:08 am |
  38. Aussie Mum

    If I were dying and had a magic wish for each of my children, my wish for all of them would be "I wish they are happy" – NOT "I wish my daughter were heterosexual and my other children happy ......"

    October 16, 2010 at 7:30 am |
  39. rainbowgirl00

    It time that we ALL take a stand against bullying of any kind but especially our youth! I think we need to build our youth up and not tear them down, How can we expect our children to stop the bullying when they hear the adults around them and the leaders of our world arguing over these issues that plague us. We spend our lives protecting our children from running into the streets and being hit by a car... when our children dont have a safe place and feel death is their only option then we are failing our children, I almost lost my son to bullying 4 years ago when he took a knife to himself, dont let our children die...stand up and use your voice and be heard!

    October 16, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  40. Bone

    So much discussion on bullying is focused on how victims need to deal with the abuses. No so much has been focused on how to deal with bullying kids and their parents. Where are the parents of these bullying kids? I suggest that we need to penalize the bullies and their parents: how about fines and maybe some prison terms.

    October 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  41. Toni

    My partner and i have been together for 44 years. I wrote three books
    La Tigra A rough patch (this one is about growing up a lesbian in SOPhilly in an Italian family with brothers.
    My third book SOMEONE WINS SOMEONE LOSES is about a policewoman working in San FRancisco.
    This is not meant to advertise believe me. I am self published.
    It is meant to show gay people having problems that you should look at yourself through your own eyes not the eyes of those who cannot understand your life. My books show gay characters NORMAL which we are – for who we are. Lonilenss is a whichin all of us gay or straight make it a friend, divert it to reading, writing, creating, and learning.
    Life is not easy for anyone, but there are some terrific moments.
    Be strong- no one can take you down if you don't let them.
    Toni

    October 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  42. Louis Bryan

    The elephant in the room here that nobody wants to talk about is that the source of all the anti-gay hatred in our society is the Christian Church. While there are tens of millions of tolerant American Christians who do not believe the hatred of gays that their churches teach, only four American denominations teach tolerance of gays. The rest, led by the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, and the Evangelical churches are still actively teaching the old hatreds and funding mulitmillion dollar anti-gay political campaigns.

    So long as the churches teach them that gays are evil, our children will continue bullying them.

    October 16, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  43. D Gardiner

    I'd like to suggest a regular spotlight on parenting.

    And since anyone who is different is an easy target, schools could add training in social and communication skills from kindergarten through high school graduation.

    Thank you–dg

    October 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  44. Pamela

    Great story!

    October 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  45. Thalia

    Bullying takes a lot out of everybody, regardless of the reason the subject or topic. It is proven to reduce manpower in productivity.

    October 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  46. lealou4solarpower

    It has been my own personal experience to be a target of bullying growing up. Now that I am stronger and wiser these types of manipulative insecure people simply do not phase me. My own three children now live in a world where there is no escape from bullying, especially on the internet with cyber bullies. When I hear their stories about being picked on in school or on the bus, I can certainly relate and offer them my best advice. In an education system where there is supposed to be zero tolerance how can so many children be out of control and get away with such actions? During my research in college for a behavioral class I learned there are steps a parent can take to reduce the threat of bullying, including taking the situation seriously. In my opinion, what needs to be addressed is how to deal with the bully and resolve issues rather than just talking about what they are. There needs to be more resolving and educating our students and teachers on how to deal with these issues. I think the other problem is our society within the school system has become too scared to deal with parents anymore. What ever happened to consequences for behavior? No one takes ownership and kids don’t learn to own up to what they do wrong.
    We need to teach our children that they can be strong in facing the bully and that the fear factor is what attracts the bully in the first place. Once children realize that they can come to their parents and the school adminstration and talk about any of these issues the situation can be turned around with the proper guidance. Many of these bullys come from unhappy homes and once this issue is dealt with directly then the both the bully and the victim can get the help they need and deserve.
    Best Regards, Lealou

    October 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  47. Rod: rltjs.wordpress.com

    Why are some people gay or lesbian? My guess is, they carry genes that have not said goodbye to the time when man was just a wriggling organism that reproduced asexually. A misfit in the time of sexual reproduction. And since they are misfits, nature keeps eliminating them. In short naturally they are ending their line or genes associated to them because they don't reproduce. 😦

    So, Joel Burns (right) with his husband JD, and all individuals like them are coming to the end of their line. They are non-reproductive. They are not reproducing. They are ending their line. Naturally, I mean. Because they might recourse to artificial cloning some day. 🙂

    It's not their fault to be misfit. They are incidental. Pointing to fault as genetic, it was not their choice to be such.

    I guess, we can only make things easy and worthwhile for them as long as their line is with us – advanced sexually reproducing organisms called man, distinctly male and female – the direction that mankind has taken.

    October 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  48. Todd

    To Dan in Lafayette,IN: When exactly did you choose to be straight?

    To The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife: Which part of the "our kids are getting bullied to such an extent that they are killing themselves and we need to prevent that" do you disagree with? If your son was gay, would you be ok with him being mercilessly taunted, physically and mentally abused and driven to suicide? Say, for a moment, that the bullying was because of his religion? Woudl that be any less ok than because of who he feels attraction to?

    How can anyone, no matter their religion or beliefs, think that stopping the abuse and suicide of children is anything BUT a good and noble thing?

    October 16, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  49. Terry Schneider

    To all the religious, political, school, and adult homophobic bigots.

    We Are Your Loving Children
    We are your daughters and sons
    Your nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
    We are even your mothers and fathers
    Your grandmothers and grandfathers
    Your aunts and uncles.
    We are your loving Bi, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender children from GOD.
    Why now, do you Hate Us?

    Standing On The Side Of Love

    Were do you stand?

    October 17, 2010 at 2:25 am |
  50. Heidi

    This act of courage is one of the greatest I have seen regarding this issue. It's something that needed to happen, and I think that things really will get better, despite of, or perhaps because of these tragedies.

    October 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  51. harbinger2u

    Homosexuality is a choice! I'm an recovering alcoholic and I can choose to drink or NOT drink.
    I make home-made wine but have no idea what it tastes like. It's all in the mind. Drinking, for me, is just not an option. I seldom even think about it anymore.
    To say a person cannot choose whom they have sex with is ridiculous. Even if a man has a desire for another man there is NOTHING that forces him to “act out” this desire. The basic problem in our society is “ A refusal to take responsibility for our own actions”.
    Suck it up and grow up!!!!!!!!

    October 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  52. Paul, Seattle

    It is a short road from bullying "the sissy" to bullying "the YOU" (fill in the way you are not quite "normal" – are you overweight? are you short? are you blonde? do you have green eyes? Then you are "different"). Tolerating bullying a gay kid means you must tolerate being bullied for your own "deficiencies."

    Bullying is always unacceptable, but especially so for a kid who's trying to find his/her way in this world. Feeling weird or different is hard enough, even when support is there. But when the other kids, or worse the family, are not held to task for their insensitivity, we all suffer.

    Joel Burns is a hero and a shining example to all of us. Diversity rocks!

    October 17, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  53. Bill Abbott

    As a parent (and former child) I was inspired and heartened by Dan Savage and his husband's much needed efforts to convey that it DOES get better. Bravo! Thank YOU Mr. Burns, whether you'd heard of Savage or not. You stood up and spoke out.

    A thousand people learn about something tragic and feel sad about it. People like Burns and Savage learn about it and think, "I wish I could have talked with him". This is who we are, at our very, very, best.

    I can assure any reader that bullies don't confine their malign behavior to gays. It IS about power, and orientation is just an excuse. Frankly, our whole society needs to stop and assure adolescents of all descriptions that it *does* get better. A lot of 40-year-olds could benefit from this message too. I think it helps to hear it from someone something like yourself, but that's probably overstated.

    Reassure someone. Sincerely. And then make sure it works out that way!

    Bill Abbott

    October 17, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  54. themadjewess

    I've been bullied, beaten up by 10 girls at one time.
    I got home and asked my mom; What do I do?" My mom told me, dont go to the principal, you are going to have to fight back and get them 1 by 1.

    I got each one of those girls within a week; I broke one girls arm, threw another through the school front door, threw my bike at another... invited one that I pretended to make friends with to sleep over, and beat her from one end of my room to the closet, then made her sleep the night in the closet.
    I threw another right through the barn door. I cant remember the rest.
    BUT,
    THAT is how you deal with bullying, OR na na na na na na, I'm tellin teacher....
    America needs to GROW UP and GROW SOME Cojones.

    October 17, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
  55. Matt

    I suppose I could be called a conservative liberal: I'm outspoken about being liberal, political-wise I'm all over the place, I'm fiery and won't back down from anything. I'm pro-gun, but also pro-choice, pro-death penalty and pro-equal rights for gays and openly serving in the military. I was moved to tears by this, by the heart-wrenching emotion that was wrought. But at the same time, I was angry that it was necessary. Why does it take a speech as heart-wrenching as this, such an emotional public outcry, to recognize that kids killing themselves is bad? Why does it take a swathe of kids killing themselves to be a problem? Isn't one kid killing himself problem enough? This was the first public outcry of this I've seen a public official do, and was glad it came from someone who was gay themselves, so they could speak on an even playing-field to other GLBT kids and teens. But again, I was angry that there weren't more. I wish I lived in Fort Worth so I could vote for Joel Burns, except I'd have to live in Texas to do it.

    October 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
  56. J

    Bullying of ANY type is wrong, but bullying doesn't happen only to kids who are gay. It happens to anyone who doesn't run with the herd. Kids who are bullied and ostricized respond in lots of ways...remember Columbine? We have to stop all bullying, regardless of the reasons.

    October 18, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  57. Larry Ponder

    harbinger2u

    stop and actually read what is written here and "listen"

    My being gay and taunted and made fun of at school had nothing to do with any sexual activity.

    Kids that are picked on and bullied often has little to do with sex.

    Being gay is something I am, not something I do. When you talk about choosing to be gay, you do not know what you are talking about. Choosing whether or not to have sex and with whom does not have anything to do with being physically attracted to males or females no matter what your biological gender.

    You may choose whether or not to drink wine, but whether or not you actually like wine is a different matter.

    When straight people tell me that I choose to be gay I am outraged. How dare you be so arogant to think you know more about me than I do? You have no idea what it is like to be a gay man and to speak for us is the ultimate in offensiveness.

    There is an age-old saying that goes something like this, "Better to be thought the fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." When you speak as a straight man and tell people what it is like to be a gay man, you remove all doubt.

    October 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm |