Madonna became the latest star to speak out against bullying on Tuesday (November 9) when she appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to spread a message of love and understanding.
"I'm incredibly disturbed and saddened by the overwhelming number of teen suicides that have been reported lately because of bullying," she said of the recent spate of suicides that have inspired a number of anti-bullying efforts, including MTV's "Love Is Louder" campaign. "Suicide in general is disturbing, but to hear that teenagers are taking their lives because they are being bullied in schools and dormitories, what have you, is kind of unfathomable."
Praising her gay fans and saying she wouldn't have a career without them, Madonna said she has had ongoing discussions with her teenage daughter, Lourdes, about the subject and that she felt compelled to speak out.
Wearing a black shirt and black pants, Madonna spoke to Ellen via remote hookup from New York and said it was an understatement to say she felt different and alienated as a teenager. "I never felt like I fit in at school," she said. "I wasn't a jock, I wasn't an intellectual. There was never a group I felt like I fit in with. I was a weirdo." She credited a gay dance teacher for encouraging her to feel good about herself and helping her to find a place in life.
Saying teens need someone they can talk to — a teacher, parent, counselor — Madonna urged parents to pay more attention to bullying and speak to their children about it. She said Lourdes recently came to her to talk about a bully at her school who was making homophonic remarks about other students. "Usually when people are bullying someone, they are afraid of the unknown ... or they've been bullied themselves," she said, comparing the bullying and persecution of gay teens to the lynching of blacks or the extermination of Jews by the Nazis.
"We talk a lot about the importance of not judging people who are different," she said of what she talks about with her kids. "Not judging people who don't fit into our expected view of what's cool and what isn't. Think about it across the board."
By judging someone, she said, you're setting yourself up to be judged. "I think it would be interesting for everybody to try one simple experiment," she suggested. "If you want to talk about solutions or how can we solve this problem, try to get through the day, each and every one of us, without gossiping about somebody. Without gossiping about anybody. And not only that — not even listening to gossip. Walking away from it. Can you imagine what your day would be like? How much more free time you'd have? I also feel like you'd feel a lot better about yourself."
What did you think of Madonna's appearance on "Ellen"? Let us know in the comments.
To spread a message of hope to victims of bullying and harassment, join MTV, Brittany Snow and the Jed Foundation in telling the world that Love Is Louder than hate. Visit the project's Facebook page, upload videos to Your.MTV.com and use the hashtag #loveislouder on Twitter.