Author, 'Two Spirits, One Heart'; member, PFLAG National Board of Directors
Just recently, my transgender son Aiden and I attended an event near Los Angeles, California called Courageous Conversation, a one-day symposium for superintendents and school leaders that focuses on how to make schools safer for their students. This was their second annual event, and Aiden had the opportunity to share his own experiences being bullied and harassed in school. Also represented this year was Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), founder and chair of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, who was invited to attend and deliver the opening welcome. Unable to do so in person, he graciously sent over a video. And this is where my story really begins.
I have always been a great admirer and supporter of Congressman Honda. I have met him in person, and his compassion, sense of humor and passion for his work and the people he serves have always struck me as being genuine and deep. But this week -- as one of the Congressman's compatriots, as a Japanese American, an LGBTQ activist and most of all, as a parent -- I could not have been prouder to hear these words in Congressman Honda's opening video speech:
As both an individual, and as an educator, I have experienced and witnessed bullying in its many forms. And as the proud jichan, or grandpa, of a transgender grandchild, I hope that my granddaughter can feel safe going to school without fear of being bullied. I refuse to be a bystander while millions of people are dealing with the effects of bullying on a daily basis.