Local Commentary

Editorial: Spirit Day & a Call To Rape at Yale

Yesterday, Oct. 20, was the first-ever Spirit Day, a mostly-web mobilized effort global supported by the Trevor Foundation, Human Rights Campaign and many other groups to stand up against teen bullying and its horrific effects on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, in particular. This global reaction to the unusually high spate of teen suicides attending the beginning of this school year last month took the form of wearing something purple for the day.

Yesterday, Oct. 20, was the first-ever Spirit Day, a mostly-web mobilized effort global supported by the Trevor Foundation, Human Rights Campaign and many other groups to stand up against teen bullying and its horrific effects on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, in particular. This global reaction to the unusually high spate of teen suicides attending the beginning of this school year last month took the form of wearing something purple for the day.

It would have been nice to see a mention of Spirit Day in the morning announcements at Falls Church’s George Mason High School. But we are confident that the campus’ “Be the Change Club” continues to work on this issue tirelessly.

The “Be the Change Club” was formed in the wake of the enormously-effective “Challenge Days” day-long program what was introduced to Mason four years ago, and will be held December 1 and 2, following its introduction to the Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School on November 29 and 30.

“Challenge Days” is arguably one of the most effective programs to deter bullying and its consequences in the U.S. Run out of the San Francisco Bay Area, it was brought to Falls Church through grants by the N. F. Benton Diversity Affirmation Education Fund (DAEF) of the non-profit Falls Church Education Foundation. It has been featured on “Oprah” and is the subject of a reality series now airing Tuesday nights on MTV entitled, “If You Really Knew Me.”

A fundraiser to help cover the cost of bringing the program to the Henderson Middle School will be held Sunday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m. at the ArtSpace Falls Church on S. Maple Street.

There has been no time when the support for and spread of programs like this has been more important than now. For a variety of reasons, including a major escalation of angry rhetoric in the national political process, taunting and bullying by young people seems on the rise. If nothing effective is done about it, the entire nation suffers by its mere tolerance of (on tacit support for) it.

Yesterday’s Spirit Day observance was underscored by the story on CNN about an obscene chanting ritual by freshmen at Yale University’s DKE fraternity house. In the dark of night, within earshot of hundreds of young coeds and others, the frat boys chanted, “No means Yes, Yes means (Expletive).” It was clearly a reference to rape, presumably of women.

It is well known in psychological circles that such male-bonding taunts belie an underlying fear of women, of sexual impotence and repressed homosexuality. But that doesn’t make their threatening tone and calls to violence any more tolerable.

CNN’s anchor asked rhetorically what the parents of these students would think if they knew this was going on. Unfortunately, evidence shows that too many parents, if not in denial, dismiss it on grounds that “boys will be boys,” and at least they’re not gay (right!).