As a public health practitioner, I have been working with state and local governments on a range of issues involving adolescent mental and reproductive health, such as depression, suicide ideation, sexual education, LGBT-specific health issues, and methods to increase self-efficacy and self-worth. I firmly believe that we cannot address each of these issues independently of one another, and in fact, we know that a comprehensive focus on these issues helps improve overall adolescent health and well-being.
Bullying, whether towards children, adolescents, or adults, adversely affects every one of these issues, not just one issue alone. The detrimental effects of bullying has tremendous costs to society, which is shameful given that bullying is completely preventable.
As with many public health concerns, a small amount of financial support for bullying prevention can reduce a considerably higher amount of medical and societal costs, which anyone would agree is a sound investment. For example, #Day1 is a free, easy-to-use bullying prevention program used in classrooms and workplaces nationwide to reduce bullying before it starts.
From a personal standpoint, I am eager to address these issues as a minority LGBT individual who has personally encountered this discrimination and believes such bigotry cannot and should not occur now and into the future. Although I believe the LGBT community has made considerable strides in recent years in combating such prejudices, I firmly think that we, LGBT or not, need to continue working even harder now to reduce discrimination for our community as well as others that face prejudice and hostility.
This is particularly true given the recent religious liberty executive order, which has anti-LGBT undertones, and its potential affect on increasing anxiety and stress among LGBT individuals and families. We have already seen such policies come forth from state governments and courthouses in Indiana to Kentucky to North Carolina and the detrimental effects it has had on our highly vulnerable community. Let your community know that faith doesn’t discriminate.
Beyond the LGBT community, it distresses me that the current political and social climate has overtly tolerated, and in many cases, accepted religion-based bullying. We have seen a double-digit increase in anti-Semitic incidents within the last year and a continuous deluge of hate crimes against Muslims. We also have had either no or reluctant acknowledgement by the current federal administration on hate crimes against visible minorities, as evidenced against my own as an Indian-American with respect to the shootings that occurred in Kansas City in February of this year.
This is an opportune time more now than ever to help reduce bigotry and discrimination against the LGBT community and other minority communities and I am looking forward to working with The Tyler Clementi Foundation, its board, and Upstanders like you to help make this change happen.
Join with me now by taking the Upstander Pledge.
Vikrum Vishnubhakta is a member of the board for the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Learn more about him here.
The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.