Russia, LGBT Rights and the Psychology of Bullying

This blog is loaded with links – do use them!

Over the past 2 months there has been a lot written about the recent draconian Russian laws attempting to crack down on gay people and any form of promoting LGBT equality. There have been discussions of boycotting
Boycott Russian Vodka
Russian vodka, moving the 2014 Winter Olympics out of Sochi, Russia, and US President Barack Obama even cited unhappiness with the Russian LGBT oppression as one of his reasons for canceling an upcoming meeting with Russian President Putin (link). See also recent NY times “op ed” by well-known playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein.

But what is the underlying psychology behind any leader seeking to demonize or bully any group? My belief is that any leader of a major world power is in a pitiful state of mind if the only way he can build support for his regime it by demonizing and setting up the populace against a minority group. That so often is the psychology behind bullying – that a person feels so poorly about their own self esteem that they need to promote themselves by putting another group down.

Instead, any entity seeking to grow and improve should be practicing the psychology of diversity and inclusion instead of bullying and exclusion. When every member of a diverse group is valued for their uniqueness and given the opportunity to grow, flourish and contribute, the whole group is lifted up. At the opposite end, when any group is demonized, they feel excluded, may then move into destructive behavior and become an oppressed drain on the entity instead of a contributor (See my 2010 blog on the Macroeconomic of Gay Bullying).

Unfortunately, Russia is not the only place in the world where LGBT people are routinely bullied. This problem is common in many places around the world and the US Department of State is even trying to make global positive impact on thsee issue (see my August “Business of Change” blog on these US efforts.)

And we still have the bullying issue against LGBT people here in the United States, particularly in our schools. Young people just entering adulthood and naturally struggling with their own self-esteem often turn to putting others down to feel good about themselves. This week I have been attending the annual North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film festival, and two of the “shorts” have poignantly addressed this issue of LGBT youth bullying:

Blog author Stan Kimer is in the red shirt with movie producers, actors and other patrons at the NC Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Blog author Stan Kimer is in the red shirt with movie producers, actors and other patrons at the NC Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

• In “The Symphony of Silence” a gay teenager commits suicide after enduring horrific bullying both in his school and at home.
“Live to Tell” has a happier ending as friends at school unite to form a “gay / straight alliance” after a gay student is beaten up by a bully.

On a positive note, awareness of and actions and resources to fight bullying continue to grow. Do check out my blog written for last year’s anti bullying awareness month for some information and resources to help fight bullying.

Anti-Bullying Awareness Month – Addressing Bullying in our Schools and Businesses

Did you know that October was National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month? Bullying is a serious national issue which sadly has a negative impact from youth in the schools all the way up into the business world. This post will briefly share a little information and provide some resources.

Webster’s defines bullying or a bully as someone who uses browbeating language or behavior to be habitually cruel to someone weaker than himself. This can particularly apply to someone who has physical strength, power by position, or as a member of a majority group, uses this strength to belittle and harm a person. Instead of using their strength to bully others, people should have a positive impact by using their strengths to assist and mentor others.

Starting with our youth, bullying can be particularly harmful if unaddressed, and can lead to destructive behavior on the part of our children. The victims of bullying can turn inward, turn to alcohol and drugs, and in the worst cases get involved in gangs or attempt suicide. I wrote a blog two years ago in terms of how especially gay bullying can even grow from an individual issue into a serious drain on our national economy and well-being. (Link to “The Macroeconomics of Gay Bullying”).

An anti-bullying billboard I saw when I went to Atlanta for my college homecoming last weekend.

Here are some resources for school environments:
• The boys of Robert Land Academy in Vancouver, Canada have taken a pledge to not bully nor be a bystander when they see bullying happening, and you and your school can also take the pledge (link).
Anti-bullying resources from GLSEN (Gay,Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
• “Bully Free – It Starts with Me” resources from the US National Education Association.
• Check out a new cool book for children on anti-bullying by leading diversity, inclusion and anti-bullying consultants AK Consulting.

And now the discussion is turning beyond bullying in the schoolyards; business leaders are now more openly discussing the issue of bullying in the workplace. Last year I wrote a blog (link) about how schoolyard bullies can grow up to become workplace harassers. Even last week at my local Triangle Society of Human Resource Management (TSHRM) monthly luncheon meeting, we had an excellent speaker (Jennifer Alfonso of She taught us the difference between bullying and harassment, the different styles of bullying and how to identify them, the tremendous costs to a business when bullying is present, and the importance of having corporate policies to address bullying.

Bullying is bad for our schools, our country, our economy and our business and together we need to be vigilant to continually battle against it. Let us use our talents and strengths to build up each other and our world!