October 7th, 2010
10:16 AM ET

Targeted student: 'It's hard not to say something'

CNN Wire Staff

Editor's note:Bullying is in our schools, and it's online. Why do kids do it? What can be done to put an end to it? Don't miss an "AC360°" special report in collaboration with People magazine, "Bullying: No Escape," all this week at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.

New York (CNN) - Chris Armstrong, the University of Michigan's first openly gay student body president, said the recent rash of headlines about gay teens who have committed suicide led him to break his silence about his own hurtful experience of being targeted online and in high school.

"It's hard not to say something," Armstrong told CNN's Anderson Cooper on "AC360" Wednesday night.

For months, Armstrong has been the subject of the blog "Chris Armstrong Watch," which is published by Andrew Shirvell, a lawyer in the Michigan attorney general's office.

Related: Michigan employee with blog on gay student takes leave of absence

Shirvell and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox have both maintained that the blog is Shirvell's personal project, that's done during nonwork hours and without any official resources.

Shirvell, a graduate of the university, has taken issue with what he calls Armstrong's "radical homosexual agenda."

"I try not to focus on what he's done," Armstrong said of Shirvell, adding family, friends and the University of Michigan have helped him get through blog postings, such as one that called him "a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR." and another with a photo of a swastika superimposed over a gay pride flag and an arrow pointing toward Armstrong.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear Mr Armstrong,
    Read on but let me make myself clear I cannot in all honestly understand how you became to want the lifestyle you have chosen as a person,
    but that is your right.
    I assume it arises out of a personal true and honest conviction of emotions and feelings.
    I may disagree that is a correct position to take but again is your right.
    Mr Shirvell has his rights as well and I assume as someone who is at college and capable of getting himself elected as student body president you are reasonably intelligent and not easily defeated for whatever reason.
    Clearly this man is lying and I hope and assume you responded to the outrageous elements like the "natzi bits" and "radical homosexual agenda"In fact thes are libellous matters and I suggest you sue him on top of the other actions by the university and you yourself have legally taken and put them on his web site and your facebook and twitter accounts and ask him to stop stalking you, and next time call the police, or wait a couple of times with photos and then call the police.
    Then send that stuff to the state attorney general saying it is conduct unbecoming, and you hope he gets fired as then you can do battle individual to individual, and invite him to a debate at a special student body meeting
    with the debate heading:-
    "Should gays be excluded/ discriminated against from being student body presidents" Him for you against.
    He refuses he's humiliated, he accepts he loses I'm sure.
    Once done you force him to be more outrageous and can ignore him completely, nothing hurts a cyberbully /stalker more than being ignored.

    October 8, 2010 at 3:15 am |
  2. Marina

    All the best to Chris Armstrong....he is correct (and evolved) in saying/recognizing that the nonsense that is being said about him, has nothing to do with him, but with the perpetrator (who obviously has mental health issues). Bullies are ill individuals and sadly, there are many of them in our country. We must show compassion for their emotional/spiritual immaturity, however, we must also stand up for justice. I commend this young man (Chris) for his grace and courage.

    October 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  3. donna desantis

    I would first like to thank Anderson for bringing the problem of bullying to fore front. Been there and done that and would sincerely hope that you rethink your position on this and so some research with familes and children who have been through this. We are raising a different generation of kids these days, and unfortunately, we have to be the parents and adults and tell them what is not acceptable behavior. There needs to be solid bullying laws on the books. There has to be consequences. Schools and administrators need to be held accountable for what takes place in their enviornments. The bullied child needs to turn to family and friends, not administrators. Programs about bullying in the schools don't work. Talking to parents of these kids who are bullying, doesn't work. They are a totally different generation and trust me, when I say, they get it. They get what they're inflicting on your child. After 2 years of trying everything, I put my daughter in private school. I do not have the money for this but you do what you have to do when it comes to your child. Children are dying on our watch. We are the adults. We need to step up to the plate and handle this. Jacqueline Kennedy once said, if you bungle raising your children, not much else you do in life matters. This is a situation near and dear to my heart because of what my daughter went through. Educate the bullied, solid laws in effect, and make the schools and the department of education responsible. Do an ad campaign on why children bully, etc.. Have those posters in the schools. I truly hope you research this a little more because having gone through this, you're off base. Kids are dying and we need to put an end to it.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  4. E Reidy

    I was bullied from 3rd grade thru 8th grade and it was horrible. I was the new kid at school and must have really been a threat to the queen bees at the time. My heart goes out to any kid who is being bullied right now. You really do feel alone and that even the adults around you don't care. In my case, the thought was that kids would be kids and it would all work out. My salvation came in High School when I got away from all the cattiness. I hope parents are more proactive these days. I can understand the despair. I've been there. It messes with your self esteem and the pain never goes away.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  5. Robin Steele-Starks

    When you pause after talking about students being bullied at school, you should focus on workplace bullying, in particular teachers being bullied by administration!

    October 7, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  6. tasha

    one more thing when dr. phil said that bullies dont see the pain they are causing, i firmly disagree bullies get an emotional high that drives them to inflict even more pain. the feeling is like a drug to them, each time they want to go a little higher. i experienced this as an adult, i can only imagine the grief of a child. a parent should immediately take their child out of a bullying situation do not leave your childs life in the hands of teachers or principals.

    October 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  7. tasha

    chris made the statement last night that bullying is not about the target but the bully, that is 100% true. when a person feels inferior or threatened they lash out at the person that has qualities they wish they had, bullies love attention and they will do whatever it takes to remain in the spotlight. bullying is very broad therefore we should not categorize it by race, gender, and sexuality each of these qualities are what we use as the reason a person is targeted but, in reality these components do not have to be present for a bully to target. it is about them.

    October 7, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  8. Amy

    Why isn't what the assistant Attorney General of Michigan doing to Chris Armstrong considered bullying? It certainly seems to me like it is. Why do our children bully other kids? Because they see that it is accepted in our society. If we want to stop children from bullying we should start by firing the assistant Attorney General of Michigan!

    October 7, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  9. douglas russell

    I know the Attorney General for Michigan can't be serious to believe this is a "freedom of speech" issue. His employee is attacking a person who ran for a Student Body position in a college. The employee knows he is using his position of authority in an manner that can only be construed as conduct unbecoming. At the very least he should suspend his assistant and have him issue an apologize to Mr. Armstrong. The state of Michigan at this time does not need a reason for people to not live or move into the state of Michigan. Clearly this was a personal attack not a political attack. Furthermore this will eventually come back to the door steps of the Govenor and it will have to be dealt with. No I am not gay but I do believe that the freedom to chose is his right.

    October 7, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  10. Taylor

    Bullying is a disgrace to all of the students. Just because some kids decide to have a low self esteem and pick on kids to make them feel good, most students get blamed for it!
    -Taylor from East Lincoln Middle School(:

    October 7, 2010 at 10:55 am |