East Tennessee high schools and UT students take part in rally to support anti-bullying

11:33 PM, Apr 20, 2012   |    comments
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Amber Field took a stand Friday night.

"There's a bunch of people that are bullied," she said outside an auditorium at the UT Student Center. She's part of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Campbell County High School, an organization that fights for LGBT equality.

"It's really bad, and I've seen a lot of really bad bullying go on and I want to help against that," Field added.

Her GSA is one of 22 that took part in the "Breaking the Silence" event. It follows a "Day of Silence," a national movement created by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. Cities across the country held similar rallies Friday evening.

"Where the community could come together as a group to share their support, ideally for the youth to spend the day in silence as a passive day of protesting intolerance and bullying," said GLSEN spokesperson Keith Hnilica.

Those in attendance witnessed some changes in the fight for equality. Tennessee has been the home of bullying-related suicides as of late, and a controversial bill that would ban the teaching of homosexuality from kindergarten through 8th grade.

"We are in the south, and people still think we're closed minded," said event participant Brandon Hopper. He remained optimistic on the strides the LGBT community has made.

Amid public pressure, the documentary "Bully" was reissued a "PG-13" rating. The MPAA originally gave the film an "R," for language. The new rating means more teens, the film's core audience, could watch it.

"People are more comfortable, open minded, and not afraid to express themselves," Hopper added.

High school students at the rally said these small steps speak volumes.

"I do eventually think it's going to get better. I can already see a change happening," Field said.

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