Sherri Park: Pulling a Pride-themed bus is old-fashioned bullying

Speak out. Don’t let this happen and go unchallenged in our community.

“Smooth move, Ex-Lax,” was my older brother’s usual comment if I stumbled or made a mistake. He had a flair for bullying me. Every summer, he said, “Are those your knees or are you smuggling walnuts?” He was physically abusive, too. He liked to form a fist with his knuckle exposed and hit me on my upper arm.

As a girl four years his junior, my efforts to combat his intimidation were futile. The best I could do was to avoid him and take delight in using his stuff when he wasn’t home. I had parents and younger siblings but, for various reasons, they could not stop him from tormenting me.

These decades-old memories came to mind as I read about the UTA bus that was withdrawn from the Pride Parade. According to reporting, “At least four Republican lawmakers pushed the Utah Transit Authority to remove the rainbow livery from a pride-themed bus …” Their complaints led to the bus being taken out of the parade.

This is old-fashioned bullying, and I don’t like it. I haven’t forgotten the times I was treated cruelly, and I don’t like to watch others being mistreated.

Bullies like to threaten, harass and insult others whom they perceive to be vulnerable. That’s who these people are. They are bullies.

Sahara Hayes, D-Salt Lake City, expressed my feelings when she said, “… the removal of the pride bus from the parade is indicative of the overall climate of increased animosity against the LGBT community — particularly the transgender community — on both local and national levels.”

I am only a bystander in this situation — which makes me the perfect person to comment on it. A bystander is someone who witnesses bullying.

According to a 2013 Department of Education study by Sharon Padgett and Charles E. Notarin, bystanders are the key to stopping bullying in schools.

“There must be a change in the behavior of bystanders,” the authors write. “Bystanders are the most pivotal group of bullying influencers, since youth are so heavily influenced by their peers. If one stands by and watches bullying, then they are letting it happen in their community. However, if one stands up, the bullies do not experience success because there will be no acceptance of their behavior from peers.”

The same principle should work in adult life, also. We are the peers in this situation, and we are the voters. Those of us who are not involved in either bullying or being bullied are the perfect people to step up and say, “Stop that. I don’t like it, and I want you to stop doing it.”

If you are also a bystander, you are the perfect person to stand up to the bullies. Say something. Speak out. Don’t let this happen and go unchallenged in our community.

(Sherri Park) Retired school teacher Sherri Park writes in a guest commentary that a decision to pull a Pride-themed UTA bus out of a parade in “old-fashioned bullying.”

Sherri Park lives in West Jordan and is a retired school teacher. She spent much of her time in the classroom working with students on ways they could stand up for others and eliminate bullying.