Viral anti-bul­ly­ing video nets teen girl a school sus­pen­sion

Ripon Bulletin - - Local -

LE­BANON, Tenn. (AP) — A Ten­nessee high school stu­dent’s anti-bul­ly­ing video has re­sulted in nearly 600,000 views on YouTube and a sus­pen­sion for its cre­ator.

Le­banon High School stu­dent Emily Gip­son said school administrators ac­cused her of “try­ing to in­cite vi­o­lence” and gave her a two-day in-school sus­pen­sion for the video en­ti­tled “Wel­come to Le­banon High School,” posted Jan. 22.

In the video, prompted by a class­mate’s Oc­to­ber sui­cide, she asks stu­dents to treat each other bet­ter. It’s a broad in­dict­ment of cam­pus cul­ture, but con­tains nei­ther pro­fan­ity nor calls for di­rect ac­tion.

“Wel­come to Le­banon High School, where smiles are fake and sui­cide pre­ven­tion is some­thing to laugh at,” she said in the video, crit­i­ciz­ing her peers’ re­ac­tion to the Stop It app the Wil­son County school had put out in re­sponse to the death.

Her ire was not re­stricted to stu­dents, how­ever. Per­haps the harsh­est words in Gip­son’s free-verse speech were re­served for school ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Posters say ‘Smile’ and ‘Be happy,’ but how am I sup­posed to be happy in a world — no, in a com­mu­nity — where cre­ativ­ity is put down, where the peo­ple who make fun of oth­ers never get pun­ished be­cause ‘There’s no proof,’ or ‘There’s noth­ing we can do about it,’ or, my fa­vorite, ‘Kids will be kids,’” she says in the video.

“So let’s sum­ma­rize: We’re ex­pected to come to this emo­tional prison every day, and we’re ex­pected to for­give the bul­lies be­cause the au­thor­i­ties are sure they didn’t mean it. Some­times I won­der how many kids it takes dy­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.”

Prin­ci­pal Scott Wal­ters told The Le­banon Demo­crat he can’t dis­cuss the 16-year-old’s pun­ish­ment, but said he took is­sue with the fact that the free-verse speech was recorded in a class­room with­out a teacher’s per­mis­sion.

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