America has a bully problem. It didn’t begin when half of the country elected the poster child of bullying, Donald J. Trump, as President in 2016, nor did it end when he was finally shoved out of the door following his attempted coup in January 2021. His enablers within the Republican Party apparatus, in the media, and across the general population still thrive in the toxic culture of the United States, and bullying manifests itself daily in countless instances of micro-aggressions, violence and harassment against women, people of color, and certainly against our own LGBTQ community.
Bullying is obviously not just an American problem, and the tragic consequences of homophobia and bullying are shown constantly with new headlines each day. The recent incident in England of a sensitive twelve year old taking his own life when he learned he would have to return to school and face his bullies again demonstrates that school administrations are either incapable of maintaining a safe zone for LGBTQ kids, or not sufficiently supported by the community in prosecuting violations of their anti-bullying codes of conduct.
Another example, this time in south Florida where a thirteen year old was captured on camera being thrown, taunted, and beaten by their fellow students in a middle school. The images are disturbing, and raise so many questions as to culpability of not only the students engaging in the bullying (caught on video), but also of those who stood by and watched, filming the incident without trying to stop the beating.
Editor’s note: Since this article first posted other news outlets have stated that Chad identifies as transgender and coverage uses she as a pronoun. The footage below has the reporter using they/their and the aunt of the victim using he/him as well as others in the coverage.
Chad Sanford was relentlessly bullied for being gay, taunted, humiliated by their fellow students. His aunt said that Chad “wanted to kill himself because they keep bullying him. Hearing that, it just makes me cry.”
Chad said they’ve been bullied this entire school year all because of their sexual orientation. “Horrible, it’s been a living hell,” said the 13-year-old.
The local news affiliate for Fort Lauderdale ran the story, reporting on the Broward County School Board’s tepid response, yet another “we are concerned” expression of sympathy, but the board offered no concrete actions in prosecuting the assaults, nor in any school disciplinary actions for either the students (suspensions) or staff (either in required anti-bullying training, or dismissals for dereliction of duty).
The past ten years columnist Dan Savage has promoted an idea for queer kids that “It Gets Better,” assuring them that despite the awfulness they might find themselves currently, they should find help if they are struggling with bullying and thoughts of suicide. But the thing is, it will only get better if we as a community support our queer kids. We have to demand justice, we have to be the change that we want to see in the world by acting together.
Chad Sanford deserves better. We all deserve better.
Editor’s Note 2: And this case is still a little confusing. NBCMiami.com is the source that is saying that Chad is transgender. While both Local10News and NBCMiami are saying Chad was bullied because of their sexual orientation, does that mean Chad is gay or a lesbian or another queer subsect? Or is the bullying about the gender identity of Chad? It seems like we all need a little more education on this topic. But one thing we do not need to be educated about is the fact that bullying, may it be for race, gender identity, sexual orientation, hair cut, religion, there is no place for any of that.
If you have had enough, take a minute to make a difference and call the Broward County School Board at 754-321-2390 to demand that arrests be made for the bullying at Deerfield Beach Middle School.