As part of a personal message to students at the Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto, pop star Lady Gaga said she wants to make bullying a hate crime.
Students attending an anti-bullying rally erupted with applause when they received a video message from the Mother Monster.
"In light of the recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer because of the bullying he experienced at school, I am going to be working as hard as I can to make bullying a hate crime," she said in her video.
The Buffalo teenager killed himself after years of harassment for being gay. His death inspired Gaga to become an outspoken advocate for the anti-bullying cause.
She recorded the message after a request from Jacques St. Pierre, the school's student council president. St. Pierre says he has been the victim of bullying because of his interest in stage and drama.
"I got called the gay kid, the fag, because I liked to be in the school plays," he told CBC's Melanie Nagy. "I lost my best friend because he joined in with the bullies. It's not fun, I've been there. I've been bullied. Before that, I didn't know bullying could affect people so severely."
He received the video message from Lady Gaga in October, but decided to keep it a secret to his classmates before revealing it at a student assembly.
Gaga asked the student audience to "treat each other with kindness...because we're all we've got."
In Canada, Rick Mercer made a rant on his television show on the issue after another gay teen, 15-year-old Jamie Hubley from Ottawa committed suicide.
Do you agree with Lady Gaga that bullying should be considered a hate crime, or is this too harsh a response? Can an appeal from someone like Lady Gaga or Rick Mercer change the minds of young bullies? Let us know in the comments section below.
(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)
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