Last Modified: 4/20/2012 4:00 AM
Related story: Kids in trouble.
Kelby Johnson’s involvement in the film “Bully” has helped her grow as a person.
Next month, the 19-year-old will start a 12-week internship at the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network in Washington, D.C., working alongside policy advisers to help make schools safer for all students.
“Hopefully the internship will open more doors,” she said.
And that is exactly what Bobby Johnson has wanted for his daughter, who grew up in Tuttle, where she was not accepted as a lesbian.
“I didn’t want her thinking that this town represented what the world was like,” he said in a recent phone interview with the Tulsa World.
Given a voice
Kelby was in her sophomore year at Tuttle High School when filmmaker Lee Hirsch approached her about being a part of the documentary, having heard of her story through comments her mother left on a forum on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s” website.
The bullying, which began when Kelby was in middle school and worsened with time, was both verbal and physical, she said.
In the film, her father says he offered her a way out. He offered to leave Tuttle, but Kelby felt that would mean the bullies would “win.”
The film has given people like Kelby a voice, her father said.
“It definitely made me stronger,” Kelby said in a recent phone interview from Oklahoma City, where she now lives.
The film opened her eyes to the magnitude of the problem.
To Kelby, one of the most striking aspects unearthed by the movie is the way school officials handle bullying situations, often “sweeping things under the rug,” she said.
But Kelby said she doesn’t think this makes school officials “bad people,” but rather it highlights the fact that most of them are ill-equipped to properly deal with bullying situations.
Her involvement with the film has also brought her messages from across the country – people offering their support as well as sharing their own stories.
The feedback has given Kelby hope that things will change.
“I hope that our generation sees that we can be the generation that stands up and says, ‘This isn’t going to happen anymore,’ ” she said.
While his daughter is happy to have gotten through to her generation, Bobby Johnson wants the message to reach the adults.
“You get what you tolerate,” he said. “And if the school administration sets zero tolerance and kids see this, then this type of behavior will stop.
“Every kid has the right to go to school free of fear.”
Original Print Headline: Tuttle native’s world expands after movie
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/article.aspx?subjectid=282&articleid=2012…