Elwood High’s anti-bullying day displays included one created by student William Chubbs, who said small towns can be more accepting than some would believe when it comes to issues concerning the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
His display, set up outside the main office, showed some facts and myths about the gay community and included pictures of celebrities — comedian Ellen DeGeneres, actress Raven Simone and Olympic athlete Tom Daley — all of whom are openly gay. It was all part of the anti-bullying day which took place in most schools for which everyone wore pink and educated themselves on bullying issues.
Deer Lake, said Chubbs, gets a passing grade for acceptance of gay and lesbians in his view.
“I’ve seen a difference since I was in junior high school. Back then I was the subject of some derogatory terms,” said the 17-year-old. “I’ve seen people change their minds as they get older. It’s hard to accept for some ... it’s a matter of educating.”
A lot of that education and acceptance, he said, can come through Internet technology and social media.
“Social media can make the communication a little easier,” he said. “When people see celebrities on the Internet and people expressing their own stories and opinions, I think it can comfort people.
“It can certainly help.”
It’s not the first time the Deer Lake school has heard anti bullying messages from its students in support of the LGBT community. In 2012, several students protested bullying by wearing adhesive tape over their mouths, representing what some students go through simply because of who or what they are.
In spite of the progress, Chubbs said discrimination still happens.
“I know people, one person in my family, who lost all their friends when they came out,” he said. “More people are being true to themselves but we are still seeing a lot of negativity towards it.”
In time, he hopes that negativity will fade, certain words used to suppress others will be banned and people will be able to just live their lives. Until then, he said, his message will continue.