School should be a safe place to learn and grow. But for some LGBT youth, it can be a real nightmare.
Saturday, people in Pocatello came out to the “Stop Bullying Ice Cream Social.” They want to spread awareness about anti-bullying and suicide prevention.
A year ago a Pocatello high school student who was an athlete and loved animals took her own life.
Family and friends of Maddie Ann Stanger-Hollifield suspect her depression stemmed from constant bullying.
One of her friends Caitlyn Romero remembers Hollifield’s positive energy, “her laugh, her positivity I guess she was just always just so happy. And yeah I miss that.”
Statistics show that members of the LGBT community are at 40 percent higher bullying rate compared to those who are non-LGBT.
“Being bullied because being a gay woman and I just find it sad our community like the mayor was saying we need to be kind to each other you may not agree with it but there’s no reason to bully someone because of their belief, or its LGBT or a difference in religion. Or how they look we need to be kind to each other,” said Tom Nastor, executive director of “All Under One Roof” center.
According to Stomp out bullying, nine out of ten LGBT students have reported being harassed to their school administrators.
“We have a hard time a lot of people have a hard time with the LGBT community and we have a hard time understanding it who are afraid of what we don’t know And the best thing we can do is education. Education, education, education, regardless of what group you belong to your still a person,” said Mayor Brian Blad.
Police and firefighters came out to show their support as well and teach kids about anti-bullying.
Mrs. Pocatello 2015, spoke out about kindness and her experience with cyber bullying.
“I understand I cant imagine feeling those feelings and going to school everyday and facing the bully everyday and kids have to face that,” said Melissa Nelson.
Carmen Stanger has a mission to make sure what happened to her daughter doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“The message that i have is words do hurt. That it is very important to speak kind to other people. Think before you speak, and thats the biggest thing you know you really have to put yourself in somebody else shoes. Before you harm them with your words,” said Stanger.