It’s the heartfelt five-minute clip that sees a teen break down in tears as she calls out school bullies, but Emily Gipson has spoken out after she was punished by Lebanon High School for recording the now viral video.
Emily, 16, posted the video titled ‘Welcome to Lebanon High School’ to Youtube, with her free-verse touching on the topics of bullies, depression and suicide.
“We’re expected to come to this emotional prison everyday, and we’re expected to forgive the bullies because the authorities are sure they didn’t mean it,” the Tennessee teen says in the video.
“Sometimes I wonder, I wonder how many. Sometimes I wonder just how many kids it takes to die to make a difference.
“Welcome to Lebanon High School where today I read an online post, ‘She should just put a gun to her head, just like that girl from Lebanon – Anonymous’.”
Inspired to record the video after a recent teen suicide within the community, Emily admits she did film it on school property, but after school hours and with teacher permission.
However, school administrators didn’t agree and gave the student two days of in-school suspension.
Emily, who received support from other students for her anti-bullying stance, told the Lebanon Democrat she was threatened with further punishment if she posted more videos.
“They gave me in-school suspension because they said I was trying to incite violence while on the school campus,” she told the publication.
“I didn’t have any intentions to incite any kind of violence. Everyone sees my message their own way, and if that’s how they see it, then so be it.”
Lebanon High School principal Scott Walters claims there’s no issues of free speech here, more about where the video was filmed.
“What I did have a problem with was that it was videoed on school campus in a classroom without the teacher’s permission,” he told the Lebanon Democrat.
“It would have been better if she had done it at home and away from school.”
With nearly 570,000 views and counting, it’s clear even though she has been punished for it – the message is getting through to people.
“Do not be blank,” Emily says in her clip.
“Do not be a canvas. Do not be the bully that does get caught… please, I am begging you, do not be the one that takes their own life. Do not fret.
“High school is not the beginning to your end, but only the end to your beginning. Have I made a difference yet?”
Got a story tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org