The Rutherford High School Secular Student Alliance — the group featured in the New York Times last spring — took part in a simple-yet-powerful anti-bullying campaign this past week:
Senior Nick Machuca, 17, brought in the project, which has been pioneered at colleges around the nation, to Rutherford High School last Tuesday.
“I’m president of the Secular Student Alliance and I thought it would be a great project we could do to support other students,” Machuca said Friday. “I think it helps more when the support against bullying comes from a fellow peer.”
The You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project is to show support for students who are being bullied. Machuca and the Secular Student Alliance teamed up with another student club, Avatar, and its president, 17-year-old Hedda Cooper, to put it on.
“It shows the students who have been suffering from bullying that they are not alone,” Cooper said. “It also gives us a chance to give back.”
Across the courtyard messages of support vary from “Gay is OK” to “It’s OK to be weird.” Principal Michael Kennedy thought the chalk campaign was an ingenious idea.
“When Nick first came to me, I thought it was a great idea,” Kennedy said. “It goes hand in hand with our anti-bullying campaign and overall the response has been great. The students have taken it and done a great job.”
Anyone surprised it was an atheist student taking the lead in making this happen?
Anyone not-at-all surprised it wasn’t a Christian?
Meanwhile, I read this column at the Christianity Today blog for women that talked about the “fine line between tolerance and bullying.” You know things are bad in their world when they can’t even take a firm stance against bullying, as if we’re somehow trampling on their rights. One Christian commenter said it beautifully:
I do not understand what is meant by “a fine line between bullying and tolerance.” What on earth is “fine” about it? I do not understand why “tolerance” is set up as some sort of outer limit of acceptance when it only further alienates the LGBTQ community. As a lesbian professor recently said to me, “Who wants to be tolerated?” It is foolish to expect that hurting LGBTQ individuals will come to us, as Reissig hopes, when the best we have to offer is to put up with them. I agree with Reissig that we need to have a counter voice to bullying, but in my experience it has to be a lot stronger than what’s suggested here if we’re going to make a difference.
Anyway, this You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project is a wonderful idea and there’s no reason other high school groups can’t replicate it across the country. I hope they do.