About 50 GCC students were in the Forum Thursday afternoon to have their voices heard as they spoke out against bullying.
Bullying has become a national issue in recent weeks after five teens in separate cases took their own lives after suffering insults and embarrassment at the hands of people who ridiculed them.
"It's so hard to constantly hear about 13-14 year olds ending their lives, partly for not having an outlet, but more for not feeling safe," said Candice S. Faulring, an instructor of psychology and adviser to GCC's Gay-Straight Alliance, who organized the rally.
Several students took turns at the mic, either because they had been a victim of bullying -- whether over weight issues, shyness or being gay. Some students spoke about friends who had been bullying, and Maggie Rapp, 19, above with Faulring, told the story of a lesbian friend who took her own life.
"A lot of the pictures we have up are pictures of kids from around the country, but to hear the stories of bullying that's happening right in our own community, in Genesee County, in Batavia, in Oakfield, in Alabama, and from kids who are still relatively young and have the courage to get up and tell their stories, that means a lot to me," Faulring said.
Students said they want people to understand that being mean to people just because they're different isn't acceptable behavior.
"I just feel it's wrong because all people are different," said Megan Matthews, 19, from Alexander. "We should just all get along. There's nothing wrong with being different."
Sarah Tuttle, 23, of Albion, and a representative of the Gay-Straight Alliance, said she's most concerned about bullying of gays and that bullying of lesbians hasn't gotten much media attention in recent weeks, but it should.
"There is no norm," Tuttle said. "Everything is normal. If you're gay, if you're male, if you're female, African-American, Asian, white, whatever, you're all the same."
According to Faulring, bullying has gotten worse in recent years because it is no longer limited to just the schoolyard boundaries.
"When I was a kid, I knew when I got home I didn't have to worry about getting a text message or what people might say on Facebook," Faulring said.
Faulring said she plans to continue to push the anti-bullying message, including making a documentary of the stories of Genesee County residents who have been victims of bullies and how they overcame it.