Be the Change


“Be the change,” Ryan Mion, the HIV/AIDS Outreach Coordinator, repeated multiple times throughout the ZONE’s Character Counts Workshop on Wednesday, Oct 3, 2012. The workshop, Creating a Safe Community for GLBTQA Youth, was given during the lunch periods in honor of Respect Week: a week in which people show their acceptance and respect towards individuals who are different in the community.

“One of the most important things I got out of this presentation is that bullying is, in no circumstance, acceptable,” senior Christen Thompson said.

According to ZONE director Liz Corsini, these presentations were developed to help raise awareness on the DMAE campus just as it did for Christen.

“We hope to foster the creation of safe and supportive learning environments,” Ms. Corsini said. “We have an obligation to support and protect all young people by creating a safe climate for all students, a climate that values each individual student.”

The presentation began with Mr. Mion explaining each letter in the acronym GLBTQA: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied. He went on to show a black and white video about a young, Christian boy who was bullied in school for being gay. In the video, the young boy told how he overcame his obstacles. One of these obstacles was his depression, which almost led him to commit suicide. He wanted to tell his story to inspire other people like him to not lose hope and stay strong.

“Words are very powerful,” Mr. Mion emphasized during his presentation. “They have the ability to build someone up or tear them down.” With this phrase, Mr. Mion encouraged the students who sat on the ZONE couches to become more accepting and change their attitudes towards people. This change, as Mr. Mion told the students, begins with simple little steps such as watching their language. Throughout the entire presentation, Mr. Mion gave the students a chance to ask questions and interact with him. They had a chance to gain as much as they could from the presentation.

“I came to the ZONE to watch this presentation because I wanted to learn different things,” junior Ladonnika Whitlock said. “Ryan’s presentation showed me that there are a lot of gay, bisexuals and lesbians in our community and that it is important for people to know that even though they are different, they should be treated the same as everyone else.”

With the hopes of changing students’ perspectives about accepting people for who they are, Mr. Mion will be returning every Tuesday afternoon to the ZONE to speak about issues related to accepting and being supportive of those in the GLBTQA community. Everyone is welcomed to attend.