A junior at Lebanon High School felt that she should make an anti-bullying video after her classmate committed suicide as a result of bullying. Emily Gipson, the creator of this video, posted it to YouTube and it went viral. The video was recorded in a classroom at the high school after school hours. Because she was not authorized to use this classroom after school hours and didn’t have permission, Gipson got into trouble. It was not the video’s content itself that got her into trouble.
The content of this video was asking for people to be respectful of each other. In the video, Gipson says, “Welcome to Lebanon High School, where you come to be
analyzed from head-to-toe every day by people you don’t even know.”
Gipson had said in response to News 4, a local Lebanon news station, “I’ve seen problems with bullying, problem with bullying not being dealt with, and I feel like some things are just put aside.” Gipson also had said that the video is for anyone who feels like they are getting bullied and also spoke about how she recognizes that bullying occurs in every school. “Anywhere I can make a difference I’d love to,” said Gipson.
Gipson has indeed made a difference in people’s lives with this video – she says she’s received numerous messages from people who watched her video, and that these were all extremely supportive messages. One girl even said the video saved her life.
The punishment Gipson received for recording this video in a classroom at school was two days of in-school suspension.
I understand that the school had to take some sort of action as Gipson did not receive consent to use the classroom and anything that is filmed on campus can be interpreted as school district endorsement, which is why students’ need to get approval first. And, most likely, the school district did not disagree with what Gipson’s message was at all. However, I still do not feel that this punishment was fair. Although Gipson should have asked to use this classroom first, I feel like her video was such a good deed that she should have been given a lesser punishment and actually given some praise for what she did!
I think that they should have done a one period or week’s detention, but not in-school suspension. Gipson deserved to see the video her effects have had in her school and how good her deed was. At the same time, however, she does need a little bit of a gentle reminder that she cannot film videos in classrooms without permission. Therefore, I think detention is a better idea than two days of in-school suspension. The school administrators should also talk to her, and perhaps the entire school, about why students cannot film videos in classrooms.
The idea behind the video was to help her peers and teens in general think of themselves in an increasingly positive matter. Because she wasn’t screaming into the void like thousands of other anti-bullying videos and notably saved lives, I feel that they should have recognized her good deed in some way.
As a student who has been bullied a lot in the past, I know that I would’ve heavily benefitted from a teen my age making this video. It’s people who witness bullying and other forms of hate but don’t do anything who seem, to me at least, the most harmful – these are the bystanders who could have helped, but did not. And when a bystander steps forward and stands up to a bully, through any means possible and in an effective way, it really makes a difference. This video made a huge difference in people’s lives and I feel that that matters more than whether or not Gipson had gotten prior consent to use a school classroom as a backdrop to her powerful and positive message.