Stop the hate: “Bullied”

This week’s Stop the Hate session showcased the film “Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History.” The film follows Jamie Nabonzy’s first-hand account on his experiences being bullied and what lead up to making his decision to go to court.

Nabonzy’s mother also gave her first-hand account on the emotional toll it took on their family as a whole.

The bullying took place at the small school in Ashland, WI and what started off as verbal harassment and abuse escalated into physical violence and abuse. Nabonzy decided that it was wrong of the school administration to ignore his pleas for help from his family and him.

“Boys will be boys” was an excuse used to defend the bullies by his middle school principal, and as an openly homosexual individual in high school, he would be told that it was “expected” by the administration there. After years of being tormented by anti-gay bullies and the advice and backing of supporters and his family, he sued the school district and several school officials for failing to protect him in accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment covers equal protection and due process under the law. He was not being treated and protected like other students be he was gay. He won his trial, Nabozny v. Podlesny, under equality but not for due process and made waves in the way that schools across the nation were approaching school bullying. This is the first time that someone had gone to court for their school allowing bullying and harassment of someone who fell under the LGBT umbrella and won.

Nabozny’s message and hope is to inspire students and people to stand up to harassment and bullying if they see it happening. They can recognize right from wrong, and if he, a boy from a small town in Wisconsin, can do it, anyone can.

“I think ‘Bullied’ was chosen because too many people just see the different color of people’s skin, racism, or religion as forms of bullying. They don’t think about the other forms that bullying can take, and I think it shows some of the other forms [of bullying] that others don’t think about. It shows that everyone has the right to be who they are and stand up for who they are. Just because a person is different in any way, shape, form or belief, that there are different ways that you can hurt those people… The film shows not only how a person can be affected by bullying but the family and friends around them. Hopefully, this film will give students something to think about when they see people around campus, and they stand up for what is right,” rental resources coordinator Diane Lind said.