By Sharon Aron Baron
Last month, I wrote about screening the movie “Bullied: a Student, a School and a Case that Made History” in Coral Springs. I’ve just received word from the Broward Sheriff’s Office that a man stood in a long line of people asking questions of an expert panel. However, instead of a question, he announced that he so believed in spreading the word about the dangers of bullying and hate crimes that he would donate $25,000 to the cause.
Leonard Solomon, 83, of Fort Lauderdale, said several things about the documentary film, which chronicles one student’s ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies, inspired him to donate. That student’s family filed a landmark federal lawsuit against school officials for failing to stop the harassment.
“The movie made me realize the size of the bullying problem,” Solomon said. “There was a lot that struck me about it – the lawsuit, how lax the school administration was. I knew I wanted to get involved.”
The money will be split among three agencies – the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and BSO – that will use a portion of it for future public screenings of Bullied. There have been three screenings of the movie in Broward County. BSO will create a new hate crimes/anti-bias/bullying account that will help pay for future town hall-style hate crimes and bullying forums and information for the public about bullying and hate crimes.
“In 2010, the Sheriff’s Foundation of Broward County donated money on behalf of Sheriff Al Lamberti and BSO’s Hate Crimes/Anti-Bias Task Force to the Southern Poverty Law Center to help produce the documentary,” said Capt. Rick Wierzbicki of the task force. “BSO was the only law enforcement agency in the nation to help produce the film.”
“Thanks to generous donors like Mr. Solomon, SPLC can make this documentary film available free of charge to educators and youth workers across the country, said Lecia Brooks of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The generous gift from Mr. Solomon will enable the Anti-Defamation League to provide our Names Can Hurt Us Assembly program at two high schools in Broward County,” said Robert Tanen of the Anti-Defamation League.
For more information about bullying, visit www.sheriff.org/antibullying online. For more information about the film, contact Capt. Wierzbicki at (954) 849-6422. Schools requesting copies of the movie can visit The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Tolerance” program at www.splcenter.org.