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Film focuses on bullying

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | MAY 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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Bullying happens, and it can occur anywhere.

In front of a room of roughly 30 people, 17-year-old Alexandra Tamerius described the time a close male friend wore a dress to school as an experiment to see how students would react.

Tamerius said kids picked on the boy, though the comments stopped the next day. But that's not always the case.

"I'm straight, but I'm a huge ally [of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community]," said the City High School student and Youth Advisory Commission member.

University of Iowa and Iowa City community members gathered at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Thursday evening to view Bullied: A Student, A School, and A Case that Made History, a film about the effects of bullying LGBT students.

The movie told the story of Jamie Nabozny, who was bullied for his sexual orientation. He and his parents sued his high school for its lack of action and won.

"No incident is too small to be addressed," said Alankaar Sharma, a visiting instructor at the UI School of Social Work and a moderator for a discussion that followed the film.

The best way to handle bullying, officials said, is to tell someone.

Adam Lewis, a graduate assistant manager for the UI's LGBT Resource Center, said when the student groups meet at the center, they usually deal with cases by starting with simple discussion, letting victims know they have support.

"It's something we want to not have happening on campus," said Linda Kroon, an associate director of the Women's Resource and Action Center.

Kroon said the university has many resources available to those who have been bullied.

Though officials said they don't keep specific data to quantify bullying cases, the issue isn't overwhelming on campus right now.

But across the nation, a number of LGBT student suicides have shed light on the harsh effects of bullying. In the recent years, as discussions have continually surfaced on the subject, more are looking at the effects of their actions, officials said.

"I think people who traditionally might call someone a faggot are being more careful," Lewis said.

Sharma said it's not the acts of violence that facilitate change "but the voices that arise from it that speak against those acts."

"Talking about your experience with that, that's more likely to lead to some action than keeping quiet," Kroon said. "And I think there's also a perception that there's a lot of shame around bullying. There's a lot of shame around that and the person who's bullied may not want to speak out."

Sharma said the UI holds "numerous, valuable" events to address issues of gender, sexual orientation, and violence against women.

"I think, in some ways, all these events are connected," Sharma said.


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