Meet Ryan Nixon, a 21 year old student from the UK who started the increasingly popular Facebook group, Bullying by Social Networking Awareness. Just started last October, the group already has nearly 3,000 members.

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Taken from the group’s About page,

“BSNA’s aims are to support victims of cyber-bullying by: creating a forum for expression and connection for those afflicted; cultivating self-esteem in those affected; propagating awareness of the topic; and ultimately to elicit a positive response from the relevant parties.”

Before the holidays, I had emailed Ryan because I was interested in how and why he started such a fast-growing group. While I had been a member of the BSNA for some time, Ryan had posted a video on the group’s Facebook page which featured him talking to a round table of bullying experts in Northern Ireland about the need for bullying awareness and why he felt it was necessary to start an action group.  I was blown away by Ryan’s humbleness and poise and wanted to know more about him.

Upon emailing Ryan, he sent me the kindest email back explaining how his own experiences with childhood trauma and being relentlessly bullied were the main inspirations behind his interest in bullying and anti-bullying awareness.  As for the group he created, Ryan was specifically inspired by Amanda Todd’s story, which he explains here:

“I set up Bullying by Social Networking Awareness in response to Amanda Todd.  Amanda’s story broke me as it was so sad.  I thought at the beginning that 30-50 people would have joined by now however, it has exploded.  I am really happy to help people because there wasn’t a service available for me when I was going through the pain.  The response has been amazing and I think it is my time to do something to help prevent it.  I do believe everything happens for a reason, this is my reason.”

I think one of the main reasons I am drawn to Ryan’s story is because of how honest and compassionate he has been with regard to how personal experiences have shaped his current engagements and the way he is choosing to live his life.  I just think the world of him and all the good he is sharing with the world.

Please click here to find the Bullying by Social Networking Awareness Facebook group.

Please click here to following the Bullying by Social Networking Awareness group on Twitter.

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 Brittany is a St. Louis, Missouri high school freshman.  Outside of her life as a normal teenagers, she also runs the extremely popular Twitter account, @StayStrongItsOk, with nearly 14,500 followers.  Using Twitter, Brittany works really hard to raise awareness about self-harm, mental health issues, and bullying.  I have been following Brittany’s account for awhile and am consistently blown away by her efforts to connect with each and every one of her followers by providing constant support and encouragement.  Posting words of encouragement and inspirational photos and sayings, she is a wonderful role model for her followers.

Read what Brittany sent exclusively to MyKindnessCounts.com about what has inspired her to do the work she does.  To learn more about Brittany and how her experiences have shaped the work she is now doing, go to her blog here.

I’m Brittany, some of you may know me as @StayStrongItsOk on twitter. Either way, I’m just like you. I go through some of the same things as you. One of those things is bullying. I’ve had my fair share of experience with it, believe me. I am currently writing my full story, and I am going to share it, once it is completed. But until then, I wanted to share one experience with you all: When I was in 6th grade, (not limited to just 6th grade), I was called really mean names, told I was ugly, and even got threatened. This was being done by both girls and boys. I didn’t understand what I had done to deserve this. It continued happening. School principals and other adults wouldn’t help me. They’d ask the kids doing it, about it, and of course they denied it. Eventually the adults started to see that this was really happening to me and tried putting a stop to it. Long story short, It was a really bad time in my life. But now, I refuse to let them keep me silent. I will stand up for myself, and what I believe in, even if it means standing alone. I am going to do whatever I can to stop bullying and help people cope with it. I have the twitter account @staystrongitsok, and there I do just that. Like I said before, I am currently writing my story, so stay in touch to know why I do the things I do. And most of all, stay strong. – Brittany

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Mikayla says, Be Yourself

October 31st, 2012 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts | Your Voices - (0 Comments)

Meet Mikayla, a 16 year old high school student from Virginia who runs the very popular and helpful Twitter account, @BeYourself_x0.  Thanks SO much for sharing your story, Mikayla! :)

I’ve been bullied my whole life, but it didnt get bad until 9th grade. I was going through alot of stress that year, and I gained alot of weight during the summer. So when I got to school I was a lot bigger then most of the girls. I got bullied constantly about my weight. Girls were always calling me fat & talking about how huge my hips were. & then they got their friends to join in & I honestly felt like everyone was against me. The girls never really did lay off of me, but towards the middle of the school year, I had a few guys start bullying me for it. & They bullied me worse then the girls did. I’d have guys come up behind me when I was walking and make stomping noises, & call me names as I walked. I actually had a few people wait for me to get off the bus just so they could start on me as soon as I got to school. The bullying got so severe that I had to be pulled out of school & be homeschooled. I still am to this day. I never had the nerve to go back to school, just because I was so scared. & I still am. I never wanna re-live my 9th grade year, EVER again. Sometimes I still think about what they said, & think its true. But I’ve come to realize im ALOT better then them. :] and because of that story, I made my Stop Bullying twitter to try to help victims of bullying. So far I’ve stopped 6 girls from hurting themselves & had a few get help for their depression, anxiety, eating disorder, etc.

Ever since I made the Twitter, I’ve felt alot better about myself. What I want to tell everyone is to stay strong, because it really DOES get better. :] www.twitter.com/BeYourself_x0

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On this site, we like to shine a spotlight on the fantastic anti-bullying initiatives young people are taking on around the world. I came across 13-year old rising star, Karlee Roberts, through PopBeatsBullying.org. Besides acting and signing, one of Karlee’s passions is speaking out against bullying. Last year, Karlee even created a video for her song, “Call Me Whatever”, which you can buy on iTunes. Word of Karlee’s anti-bullying efforts have been spreading among the anti-bullying community, so we reached out and asked her to do a post for MyKindnessCounts.com. Check out Karlee’s video and story below!
PS. I know we have some big Demi Lovato fans around here — watch Karlee’s version of Skyscraper at the end of this post! :) Karlee is one super talented girl!

Nerd, Cheerleader, Guidette, Sporty, Classy, Hipster, Goth… Yup! That’s me! I’m Karlee Roberts, a thirteen-year-old actress/singer with a passion for spreading anti-bullying awareness.

I released my first original song “Call Me Whatever” about name-calling in hopes to relate to other kids my age who have experienced bullying. The music video features seven different stereotypes. Each one is special and not one of them is better than the other. “Can’t you see we’re all the same within?”

I wanted to express the emotions I felt about bullying by writing a poem and that’s when I realized, it wasn’t just me being bullied. I decided I would turn the poem into a song and then created a music video to go along with it. I hoped that I could give victims a voice and let them know that they aren’t alone.

“Call Me Whatever” is meant to build confidence in victims and inform bystanders and bullies. This cause is personally important to me because I’ve witnessed so many different kinds of bullying. Alienation, indirect, intimidation, name-calling, cyber-bullying… sometimes you are being bullied and you don’t even realize it! No matter what, being bullied never makes you feel good. Feeling insecure can be a very dark and lonely time.

My goal is to make 2012 and the years to come bully-free. Using the power of music, I tour all over the world to spread awareness. My fans have become one giant support system. It means the world when they reach out and share stories that they’ve listened to “Call Me Whatever” after they’ve had a rough day. Knowing that my music inspired them to get through it with confidence is the reason why I love making music.

Anyone can help! Every year I hold the “Call Me Whatever” poster contest where kids can express how they feel about bullying through their artwork just as I have. This year, I am also starting a “Geek Keek of the Week” where kids can make videos in response to my keeks to promote social acceptance.

It’s an honor to team up with great organizations like My Kindness Counts to educate and empower young people to be proud of who they are and let them know that they are not alone. Let’s stop bullying together!

 

Karlee Roberts Official Website
Follow Karlee Roberts on Twitter
Find Karlee Roberts on Facebook
Watch Karlee’s videos on YouTube

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GLSEN Connecticut Jump-Start

September 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts - (0 Comments)

Dear Connecticut middle and high school students:

Become a Jump-Start Student Leader

DEADLINE EXTENDED: APPLICATIONS NOW DUE OCTOBER 15, 2012!

Welcome to our chapter’s student organizing page! You’ll be able to access our Jump-Start application and learn more about joining our chapter’s empowering student organizing coalition.
WHY JOIN OUR CHAPTER’S STUDENT ORGANIZING COALITION?

- Are you a middle or high school student dedicated to preventing LGBT-related bullying/harassment at your school?

- Are you determined to make your school a more inclusive and equitable place for LGBT students of color and their allies?

- Do you seek to improve the climate of your school through empowering your peers to create social change?

Put your passion for safe schools advocacy into action! Apply now to join our chapter’s Jump-Start Student Leadership Coalition!

JUMP-START STUDENT LEADERSHIP TEAM Our Jump-Start Student Leadership Team is composed of bright, energetic, and dedicated student leaders from all across the state who are committed

to making their schools safer for ALL students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. For the first time, the team will be accepting middle school as well as high school students (Gr. 6-12). Middle School students are very encouraged to apply!

STUDENTS OF COLOR ORGANIZING (SOCO) TEAM Our Jump-Start Student Leadership Team has recently partnered with our chapter’s newly formed Students of Color Organizing (SOCO) Team, which focuses on providing increased visibility, support, and advocacy for LGBT students of color and their allies. The SOCO team is working on a year-long website project that seeks to create a safer and more inclusive space for all LGBT students of color and their allies. If you’re a student of color or ally interested in getting involved with this project, please apply using the Jump-Start application.

SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION You can access and submit your application by downloading our application via this page under “Related Documents” on the right side of the screen. Click here to go to the site and find these documents!

WANT MORE INFORMATION? Our two-page Q & A under “Related Documents” has a list of all our current and former student leaders. Feel free to contact any one of them for more information on the team. Any general questions can be sent to: JSconnecticut@chapters.glsen.org.

Feel free to post, print, or electronically send the Jump-Start Flyer/Postcard under “Related Documents” to youth in your school or anyone who would be interested in joining. We need your help to spread the word!

To join our Facebook group, GLSEN Connecticut Jump-Start Team and Allies, please click here.

If you are interested in volunteering for the chapter, please fill out our Volunteer Application. We have many exciting volunteer opportunities available for youth, including tabling at events, speaking at schools, facilitating educational workshops, and much more!

SAFE SCHOOLS SUMMIT GLSEN Connecticut’s 2nd Annual Safe Schools Summit is on Saturday, April 6th, 9am-5pm, at Common Ground High School, 358 Springside Ave, New Haven, 06515. PLEASE SAVE THE DATE! More information about the summit will be released soon.

picture source 1 & 2

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Meet Katelyn!!

June 21st, 2012 | Posted by Jessica in Your Voices - (0 Comments)

Meet Katelyn!!

Watch Katelyn’s awesome anti-bullying YouTube music video she created with a friend to take a stand against bullying!

This website has opened my eyes and mind to many things. I would like to say that we are all here for a reason, God has a plan for us. No matter what you go through, God is always with you.. If you believe otherwise than think this way: Someone in the world is feeling EXACTLY how you are feeling, right now.. Crazy right? But true. I try, every chance I get, to stand against bullying and aganist things that are not fair. I realized my purpose on this earth was to help others through troubled times — the same things I went through. Being a victim of a bullying, Is NOT fun.. But if you stay strong and remember that no one’s judgement counts other than Gods, you will be fine. God bless you all –Katelyn

Thanks for allowing me to share your video, Katelyn.  I love all the little notes to the viewers: “We know what it feels like to be knocked down so many times by what other people say.”, “You’re not alone, there are so many people who go through it too.”, and “Keep your head held high.” Katelyn wants to continue making changes in people’s lives and share her stories with other high schools to take a stand against bullying.

Well done, girls!!  Great job using both of your experiences to take a stand and choosing to support others! <3

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This PTA Raises More Than Bake Sale Money: It Raises Consciousness for GLBT Students

Written by: Wesley Davidson

Photo credit: David Pokress | Laurie Scheinman, who has been nominated as co-chairwoman of the Long Island Gay Parent Teacher Student Association, with her daughter Rachael. (April 4, 2012)

The Parent Teacher’s Association has always prided itself for not only reaching out to families in their district, but also with mainstream parents in mind. Recently, with stronger anti-bullying measures needed in schools, as well as the contribution of gays incorporated into the curriculum, the nation’s first official gay PTA called Long Island Gay- Parent -Teacher Student- Association formed the week of April 23, 2012 in New York. source

They Saw A Need and Fulfilled It

The brainchild student, Rachel Scheinman, a senior at Portledge School in Locust Valley, New York and her mother, Laura Scheinman, 49, chartered a PTA that focuses on the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their families. Rachel, who identifies herself as lesbian, says “ there have been many instances where negative comments are said, and ignored for lack of a better strategy.” Comments her mother of Sands Point, New York, “while many of our schools are tolerant, they don’t have a system set up for any issues if they are to arise. The PTSA will kind of remove those barriers between parents and schools.” Gay-Straight Alliances of students will work at school districts with parents, teachers and anyone interested in equality advocacy for LGBT students or those raised by same-sex couples.

The More The Merrier

“The more people who are involved in the education of children, the better” stated Maria Fletcher, president of the New York State PTA, based in Albany. You don’t have to live in Garden City or even Long Island to join. Nor do you have to parent a gay child to be included. All you have to do is believe in the movement.

Although a similar parent-teacher-student group formed in 1999 in Seattle and later disbanded in 2004, the time is rife for a more inclusive effort such as Scheinman’s to combat GLBT harassment in schools. I suspect that this model program will catch on this country and endure.

*Wesley Davidson is co-authoring, with a psychiatrist, an advice book for straight parents of gay teens. Her blog on this topic can be found at http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com

Click here to read a previous post Wesley Davidson wrote for MKC on the topic of raising a gay teen.

 

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