Check out the article in the Petawawa Post
Jeremy Dias brings ‘JersVision’ to General Panet
by Adam Hodnett
I was talking with Jeremy Dias after his presentation, when one kid came back. The others had all left.
“I just wanted to know the name of the school,” he said. But he clearly had more on his mind. He wanted to share a story.
“Does that sort of thing happen often?” I asked Dias later.
“All the time,” he said.
Dias started “Jer’s Vision” with the $5,000 he won after suing his school. As a gay, half-Pakistani kid, new to a northern Ontario town, he became a target to both students and teachers.
The organization now defines its goal as, “[working] to eliminate bullying, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination in schools and youth communities.” He spoke at General Lake Public School and General Panet High School on March 27th.
He tells his story in hopes of encouraging conversation. And relays the messages applicable to everyone.
Once, in high school, he was beaten up, and woke in the hospital. In the principal’s office the next morning, he remembers being told, “this is great, it’ll toughen you up, maybe you’ll quit complaining so much.” But Dias said, “I don’t want to be tougher, I just want people to leave me alone.'”
“Narrow, confined, definitions of what it means to be a guy or a girl are really problematic,” he said, at General Panet, during the question period.
The value on being tough is considered normal for a guy. And for those who don’t apply, it can attract criticism—to put it lightly. “Normal” can be anything, from sexual orientation to a type of lipstick or clothing brand. And kids can often be relentless, which quickly becomes dangerous.
“When people call you a loser every single day of your life, you start believing it,” he said.
But eventually, Dias found friends, and someone stood up for him.
“She called me one nice thing, and I [felt] like a regular person again,” he said.
He spoke of the easy ways people can help. Like simply not joining in when a group is teasing someone else.
“Although you may not know it,” he said. “You may of just saved [a] life.”
Sarah Perras is the secretary of the General Lake Parent Council. She wanted to bring Dias here.
When Perras heard a story about another young gay man’s struggle to find support near home, she wanted to look into it.
“Through the process I did find that the PMFRC is more than happy to help anybody, the women’s sexual assault centre in Pembroke has opened to doors to everybody—there is support,” she said.
The PMFRC will actually be starting their “Boy’s Council” this September.
Perras thinks it’s important to have these kinds of conversations and wanted the kids to hear from Dias firsthand.
“Having someone be so upfront and honest about it might be a little bit different than usual, but I think it’s great, because it opens up the conversation,” she said, after Dias’ talk at General Panet. “Look at how many people are standing there now, like actually asking questions … that shows, right there, that there is a need.”