Bullied Student Whose Video Went Viral Leads the Pack


February 21, 2013
Don Han
(714) 796-8361

OC Human Relations Selects Nine Awardees Who Have Helped Combat Prejudice, Intolerance and Discrimination Countywide to be honored at The City National Grove of Anaheim on May 2, 2013

In August 2011, then 14-year-old Lake Forest resident Jonah Mowry posted a heart-wrenching video on YouTube, it went viral. In this video, that has now been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide, Jonah poignantly describes his despair and turmoil over being bullied for being gay since he was in the first grade. The video was made at 4 a.m. one morning before Jonah went back to school at Serrano Intermediate School. In it he spoke of the impact bullying has had on his life.

Not only did Jonah have the courage to stand up for himself and become the face of courage against bullying, but he also became a national icon. At a time when the headlines were full of stories of other young people being bullied—some of whom committed suicide, like Tyler Clementi, Amanda Todd, and others—Jonah had the courage to go public with the impact of bullying. He stood up against bullying at a time when teen bullying had reached epidemic proportions.

Last summer, Jonah started posting weekly videos called, “Jonah Mowry Advice.” The first one dealt with depression and answered questions he had received on Twitter. He talked openly about how much therapy was helping him deal with depression. Many, many teens grapple with depression and feel that they are alone. His candor is encouraging many of them to seek the help that they need. Another video installment dealt with self-harm and emotional triggers.

He started the advice videos because he wanted to turn the 55,000 subscribers that he had with the first video into something good. He answers questions from his own experiences and from what he is learning from going through therapy.

In February 2012, Jonah took on a national spokesperson role when he headlined the launch of the Monster March in San Francisco appearing with parents of teens who had committed suicide because of bullying.

In October 2012, Jonah joined others in a march opposing bullying at Main Beach in Laguna Beach. The event, the People’s March Against Bullying, was organized by Cool 2 Be Kind, a club at San Clemente High started by friends of Daniel Mendez, who committed suicide in 2010 because of bullying.

There is no telling how many countless young lives he has saved with his courageous acts. His courage has made a difference in so many people’s lives—young and old alike.

Jonah will receive one of nine awards presented by Orange County Human Relations at its 42nd Annual Awards Gala, sponsored by the Disneyland Resort at the City National Grove of Anaheim on May 2, 2012.

This year’s awardees are:

Diverse Community Leaders Awards
Community Leader Awards honor individuals or groups who have made extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights. The honorees are:

  • Jonah Mowry-(Lake Forest) for the courage to stand up for himself and become the face of courage against bullying, and using his national recognition to increase awareness about the consequences of bullying.
  • Barbara Jennings (Fullerton) for her tireless advocacy and dedication to rebuilding the lives of the hungry and homeless of Orange County. Barbara is truly committed to the service of those in need.
  • Geraldine “Gerry” Gerken (Newport Beach) for a lifetime of support for women’s issues. Since 1955, Gerry has been a member of Zonta International, working to advance the status of women worldwide by improving the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women at the global and local levels through service and advocacy.
  • Michael Drake (Irvine) for his commitment to the principle that at UCI all perspectives and opinions should be heard in the academic environment. He has made it a priority to strive to create a climate at University of California, Irvine where students of all faiths feel safe. His leadership at UCI has helped create an increasingly diverse university tempered by the voice of reason in a democratic society.
  • WE are Anaheim, SOMOS Anaheim (Anaheim) is a community-based group of volunteers that represents Anaheim residents. Members of the group come from different walks of life, live in different zip codes, speak different languages, and have varying opinions, but come together with the common goal of working for peace and progress in the City of Anaheim.

    Diversity in Business Award

    For the first time, OC Human Relations honors a business or corporation for embracing the principles of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The honoree was selected based on the following criteria: CEO commitment to diversity and inclusion, workforce diversity, corporate communications, supplier/contractor diversity, and community involvement. The 2013 honoree is:

    • Wells Fargo embraces the principles of diversity and inclusion in the workplace at all levels of the organization from Chairman, President and CEO John Stumpf whose commitment is evidenced in a recent article published in LatinoMagazine.com to the Wells Fargo (WF) Enterprise Diversity Council that ensures that WF continues to progress in recruiting, placing and developing diverse team members. Once on board, WF associates benefit from nine Team Member Networks, including the Latin Connection, Asian Connection, Middle East Team Network, Diverse Abilities Team Member Network, Black/African American Connection, Native Peoples Team Network, PRIDE Team Member Network (LGBT), Women’s Team Member Network, and Veterans’ Team Member Network.

    The company’s culture encourages team member charitable donations and volunteerism. Each team member is given 16 hours of paid time every year to volunteer at a charity of his or her choice. In 2012, the Wells Fargo Foundation, Wells Fargo’s philanthropic arm, and team members donated more than $5 million in Orange County and they volunteered almost 14,000 hours. Wells Fargo employs 4,357 people in Orange County.

    Community-Policing Awards
    Community-policing awards recognize departments that have tailored creative strategies to provide service and build positive relationships with their communities. This year’s awardee is:

    • Cypress Police Department (Cypress) for creating a P.A.C.E. (Positive Actions thru Character Education) program designed to enhance awareness, influence choices, and educate 6th grade students in the areas of Internet safety, social media, peer pressure, bullying, violence and drug abuse. P.A.C.E. is used to guide students to become persons of good character and behavior while concurrently forging a positive relationship with the police department. This new outreach program with the full support of the City of Cypress and the local school districts is responsible for teaching the 10-week P.A.C.E. program to approximately 900 students.

    Distinguished School Awards
    Distinguished School Awards recognize exceptional contributions to promoting, nurturing, protecting and/or cultivating a campus that is safe, welcoming and equitable. This year’s awardees are:

    • Fountain Valley High School (Fountain Valley) for striving to build a culture on campus that is safe, nurturing, and inclusive of all students. They believe that establishing a positive school climate begins on the very first day of school. As students begin each school year at FVHS, they are welcomed to campus with a strong Link Crew program and an Aloha Dance. FVHS has one of the longest-running BRIDGES School Programs in the county, demonstrating the school’s commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students. FVHS is home to over 60 clubs, ranging from service organizations to athletic groups to clubs tied directly to the curriculum. With such a wide variety of opportunities for involvement, FVHS believe that every student can find a place where they feel they belong. At Fountain Valley High School, people are proud to be Barons for Life!
    • Garden Grove High School (Garden Grove) OC Human Relations’ BRIDGES program has had a unique role on the Garden Grove High School campus due to the fact that it has been instrumental to the birth of many campus and student initiatives that now continue to operate independently and self-sufficiently. With the collaboration of BRIDGES, GSA, ELAC, MeCha, and other groups on campus, GGHS is building a campus that is safe, inclusive and equitable for ALL students. GGHS’s First Annual Unity Fest brought together parents, teachers, administration, and student groups to celebrate the campus’s diversity and raise funds that would be used as student scholarships that communicated our commitment to “college for ALL.”
    • Hansen School (Anaheim) The families, faculty, and students of Hansen School have employed numerous programs to promote a safe, equitable, and inclusive school environment. Serving a diverse population in the heart of Orange County, Hansen School has overcome the challenges facing our low socio-economic community. Hansen School has implemented many programs to promote positive community involvement as well as clubs and instructional techniques to build equity among students. For example, Hansen’s PALs have organized food drives for families in the community, established a recycling program on campus, and have assisted as conflict resolution specialists on the playground.

    OC Human Relations is proud to partner with our 2013 AWARDS 42 Title Sponsor Disneyland Resort to present Awards 42.

    For more information about AWARDS 42 and any of the award recipients or to schedule interviews with the honorees, please contact Don Han at (714) 796-8361 or don@splash.ochumanrelations.org.

    About OC Human Relations
    Since 1971, OC Human Relations has worked to build bridges of understanding to promote a vision of our community where all people are valued and included and our diversity is realized as a source of strength. The Orange County Human Relations Council is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1991 for the purpose of developing and implementing proactive human relations programs in partnership with schools, corporations, cities, foundations and individuals. For more information, visit www.splash.ochumanrelations.org or call 714-567-7470. Connect with us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WeAreOneOC.