Anoka-Hennepin students talk, sing to Anderson Cooper about anti-gay bullying [VIDEO]
Anderson Cooper talked to Kyle, bullying victim and scene-stealer.
Anderson Cooper is making it something of a personal mission to take on the school bullying issue, and every night this week on CNN is devoted to his "Bullying: It Stops Now" campaign.
To kick off the series on Sunday night, Cooper interviewed experts, A-list celebrity advocates and, of course, students who have been subjected to bullying for their sexuality. And where does one find gay students who've been subject to bullying?
Where else? The Anoka-Hennepin School District. Cooper welcomed four students from Anoka-Hennepin who've suffered through bullying for homosexuality, real or perceived, including a sullen adolescent who couldn't take the verbal bullying and left the district, and an adorable little kid who stole the show by singing Lady Gaga.
Along the way, Cooper turned the forum over to guests like Kelly Ripa and Jane Lynch, who offered support for the students and condemnation for the school district's neutrality policy.
After mentioning the lawsuits filed against the district by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, along with the Department of Justice's investigation into the school district, Cooper introduced the four kids.
First he spoke to Kyle, the youngest of the group, who described a horrifying trip to the bathroom in which he realized he was being urinated on by another kid. Hearing this, Cooper asked, "And how often do you get bullied, you get pushed around?"
"Almost every day," Kyle told him.
Kelly Ripa and Jane Lynch had sympathy for the kids, but not the Anoka-Hennepin district.
The other students recounted the abusive language they'd endured at school, with one, a girl named Brittany, saying she'd taken her problems to counselors, but to no avail.
"I'd explain to them what [bullies would] say, and how they said it," Brittany said. "But [counselors] told me not to talk that way, not to use that language, or just forget about it -- just ignore them."
Cooper ran down the students' problems, which included such bad treatment for one gay adolescent that he left his school. A visibly upset Kelly Ripa interjected.
"I have to tell you as a parent I'm sitting here and I'm stewing with rage," she said. "I just feel so angry and so upset for the four of you and your class experience.
"This young man can't even go to school anymore. He shouldn't be the one who should have to stay home. The bullies or the aggressors should be made to stay home or expelled from school."
Then Cooper opened up the discussion to "Glee" star Jane Lynch, whom Cooper said is raising a daughter with her wife. Immediately and swiftly, Lynch condemned Anoka-Hennepin's "neutrality" policy on gay issues.
"It's really, really sad that they don't have an advocate, and I think that this neutrality policy is abdicating their responsibility, the adults' responsibility, of protecting these kids, and it's really very sad. It makes me very sad."
The show-stopper came when Cooper said that Kyle, who seemed at once composed but shy, wanted to sing for the audience. Kyle's favorite singer, Cooper said, is Lady Gaga.
"She's amazing," Kyle interrupted.
Then Cooper turned it over to Kyle, who belted out an a capella version of "Born This Way" that brought the crowd to a standing ovation to close the segment.
Here's video of Kyle's fearless scene-stealing moment:
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