Bigotry: Think Before You Speak

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The current teen generation, also known as the “Youtube Generation” is not only known for its technology addiction, but also for its slang. Instant Messenger terms are used in conversation, which perplexes many adults. Not just Instant Messenger terms are used, though. Lingo may seem simple enough, but the current generation has incorporated bigotry into their daily vocabulary. You don’t have to be a teenager to be familiar with hearing kids say “that’s gay and “that’s retarded” when things do not seem to be going their way. The use of offensive terms that the current generation commonly uses needs to be put to an end.

Bigotry is a term that most teens cannot define, yet take part in daily. Bigotry involves verbal abuse that targets people with disabilities and specific sexual orientations, purposely and sometimes inadvertently. These slang terms are not correct to begin with. Gay is the act of two males or two females being attracted to one another. Retardation is a learning disability in which an inanimate object cannot contract. Though teens may not realize what they are saying, its time to stop and analyze the discriminatory things they are saying.

Imagine this: two teens chatting nonchalantly in a relatively crowded library about the stress of their school work. One of them uses a slang term that demonstrates bigotry. Maybe the classmate sitting behind them is gay. Perhaps, the class with learning disabled students is using the computers in the room. Terms like this can hurt people. Hearing them day after day eventually takes a toll on teens, especially with stress from teenage life piled on as well. A boy by the name of Jim Wheeler took his own life because of harassment from his peers. He was an ordinary high school student and was constantly harassed about his sexual orientation. After being criticized throughout high school, Jim could no longer take it. He expressed his anger towards his intolerant peers through artwork; he also asked friends to help him end his life, and even threatened his family. Jim, as a gay individual could no longer take the harassment he was exposed to at his high school in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He committed suicide. This event inspired a documentary nationally called “Jim in Bold”; when Jim took his life due to bigotry and harassment, the year was 1997. More than a decade later, the issue is still present today. His moving story is helping gay teens across America have strength, but this harassment sadly is still present. This is a first hand act of an ordinary student who took offense to thoughtless remarks, and it affected him in a deeper way than anyone ever imagined.

When the seat next to you in history class is unoccupied do you ever wonder why? According to a bullying prevention organization, every single day in the United States, at least 160,000 kids miss school in fear of harassment from classmates. If the Youtube Generation took into consideration their actions and words, many kids would still be alive. No teen should ever, ever have to fear attending school, or want to leave their family and friends behind.

Glenn Stutzky, a notable professor once stated, “We have allowed a culture of abuse to thrive unchecked in our nation's schools," and we are paying for it with the bodies of our children." This quote said by is the harsh truth that people across America need to start realizing. Along with crazy fashion fads, profane music, and celebrity influence, teens are exposed to the dangers of freedom of speech. It is a right that U.S. citizens take for granted. If you are lucky enough to say whatever you wish, be considerate to others. Think about what you are saying and who it may offend. Think about how what you say affects the emotions of classmates around you. Just because someone is different does not mean they have to be put down on a regular basis. Everyone deserves to want to live, so think before you speak.





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Mantizah said...
Dec. 7, 2013 at 10:04 pm
I think there's something missing here. What's a little bit of slang have to do with bullying and harassment?
 
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