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My name is Joey Kemmerling, and I am a junior at Council Rock High School North in Newtown, Pennsylvania. I am also a GLSEN Ambassador, speaking out against the anti-gay bullying I have endured for four years.
I’m writing to tell you that students like me desperately need people like you — people willing to support the essential work of GLSEN, so they are not alone in their struggles.
When I came out to a few friends in the eighth grade one day, the entire school knew about it by the next morning. Nearly every day since, I’ve been subjected to snickering, name-calling, threats, shunning and outright hate from my peers. From my teachers, I got virtually nothing — no support, and certainly no intervention. One school administrator’s “solution” was to ask me to be “a little less gay.” I have since graduated to my local high school, and while the teachers are more accepting, the administration is not.
I decided to become a little more the person I am. And your support for GLSEN and its programs made a huge difference. I took a leadership role in my school’s GSA. I set up a Facebook page and web site (theequalityproject.net) where students and our allies can support one another and organize for positive change. (Guess what — the site is blocked on my school’s computers, even though “God Hates Fags” is still accessible.)
I created an assembly presentation about bullying and my own experience, and have presented it to schools and groups all over my area. And I have worked with GLSEN to get the word out to Congress, state legislators, the media, parents groups and the public at large about just how huge and dangerous anti-gay bullying is in our country. I honestly believe most people have no idea how many kids suffer, and how much that suffering destroys their spirits, their grades and their faith in the future.
In addition to thanking you for being a part of GLSEN, I want to ask you to support GLSEN once again. As we look at our lives and the things that matter most to us, solutions to the epidemic of bullying are high on my list. I hope they are for you, too. If so, GLSEN needs your help. Please make a year-end contribution to GLSEN today.
The bullying in my school hasn’t stopped. But I’m much more able to deal with it, because of my own resolve and hope, and because of the extraordinary support I have received from GLSEN.
In closing, I wish you a happy holiday season and a safe new year — for all of us.
Joey Kemmerling Council Rock High School North Newtown, Pennsylvania
P.S. When I first contacted GLSEN, I wasn’t sure that a national organization like it would take the time to help someone like me. But it was just the opposite. The entire GLSEN team at its New York headquarters took me under their wing, and gave me the support and encouragement I needed to stand up for myself. Today, I’m proud to be a GLSEN Ambassador, spreading the word about the crisis of bullying. I’m also spreading the word about how much GLSEN is counting on your special support today. Please give generously by clicking here. Thank you.