Orange shirts encourage Lufkin High School to stand out against bullying

Alexis Kirksey, Panther Growls staff member

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Orange shirts will speak for themselves Wednesday as a stance against bullying.

“Orange shows that we are together against bullying and united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion,” said Dolores Perez, Lufkin High School’s Communication in Schools liaison. “I’m going to pass out the ‘Why I’m Wearing Orange’ badges because it is a color that stands out.”

Like the color, students are standing out by becoming involved and even sharing their own bullying experiences.

“Students that I have never met before have approached me and told me that they want to be involved,” Perez said. “Some have a story that they have chosen not to share; however, one of my students did share her bullying situation.”

A wrong situation is what Perez believes bullying is in all areas of life, because people never know the effect it is going to have on a person.

“One of my sons was being bullied. He was scared and did not want to go to school,” Perez said. “I took a step forward and told the school about what was going on. It came to be that a little girl liked him. We wouldn’t have known the situation if we didn’t address it.”

That means speaking to an adult. Perez said to avoid the situation but speak up. If that doesn’t work, then go forward and talk to the principal.

“I would make a statement about it,” Perez said. “I would defend anyone.”

Defending victims of bullying takes being aware of their surroundings even their social media accounts.

“Social media has messed up things that could have had a good outcome,” Perez said. “For example, I don’t post anything about politics on my Facebook account because of arguments and division.”

Bullying occurs from the internet to the school building. The way a student dresses can lead bullying, as can other things, such as language barriers.

“When a student has a disability or dyslexia, they’re afraid to read out loud because they are afraid of being made fun of,” Perez said. “I’ve never seen physical bullying — just verbal.”

Perez said people should think twice about what they say and do, which is why she will continue to bring the topic of bullying up.

“This is making me want to have more involvement and make this into a yearly thing,” Perez said. “Next year, I’m going to start a month before, so I’ll be a lot more prepared the second time.”

The national anti-bullying day, Oct. 24, has instilled expectations in Perez.

“My expectations are fewer reports of bullying because we made a change,” Perez said. “Or more reports will be made because of the willingness to open up.”