Monday, December 12, 2011

Passing of the Baton

On November 28th, the world lost one of its strongest leaders in the campaign against bullying and for gay-teen suicide prevention.  Any teen suicide, for that matter.  Roger Crouch's work affected many people all around the world.  One can't help but think that he was just really getting started.  His loss has reverberated around the globe.

A year earlier, Roger's gay teen son, Dominic, committed suicide.  He was yet another victim of what is now known as bullycide.  Apparently, Dom had taken a dare, kissed a boy, and was severely ridiculed for it.  Roger, and his lovely wife Paola, turned the tragedy, and sheer heartbreak, into positive action.  Roger campaigned vigorously to change the climate of hate, to end the bullying, and to prevent more teens, gay and straight alike, from committing suicide.  And, his work was recognized around the world.

Now, a leader is gone.  The baton has to be passed on.  I believe that there are emerging warriors in the battle who are ready and able to share the baton and continue Roger's work.  I believe firmly that if each person does everything in their power, in whatever capacity they're capable of, to fight this terrible epidemic, change will come.

Today, Roger's grief-stricken wife posted this message on a facebook page dedicated to Dominic.  The question now is "who is ready to take on the call to action?"

"Please do believe in all young people as individuals and support them in whatever way you can. Sometimes, a couple of words is all it needs. The day Domi died, no one spoke to him. It breaks my heart. Teenage suicide through bullying is preventable; remember that! Never forget it. Roger's legacy is a massive push against hatred and bigotry. It is not banter if it is aimed at one, isolated target. Please teach children in your school to have the tools to deal with these situations when they arise. Dom' problem was that apparently bullying did not exist in his school and therefore there was no support system in place. Disgraceful, even after the suicide of another girl nine months before. I will never forgive them because they have not had the decency to hold their hands up and say 'we have a problem here, a bad problem, let's deal with it'. Stonewall offered to go in and support them and they declined the offer.
What breaks my heart further is that Roger was doing such a good job of getting the message across, reaching very influential people. I simply do not have the expertise to carry on. I am hoping against hope that colleagues who knew Roger will understand what he was trying to achieve and will take up the baton. The war is not yet won."

Thank you, Paola.  And, thank you Roger Crouch.