Cyberbullying and the Innocence Narrative

52 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2013 Last revised: 26 Mar 2014

See all articles by Andrew Gilden

Andrew Gilden

Willamette University - College of Law

Date Written: January 29, 2013


This Article critically examines recent debates about the bullying and harassment of gay teens. A string of suicides in the fall of 2010 yielded a wide range of legal reforms at both the state and federal levels. The accompanying debates, however, have largely employed one-dimensional accounts of the difficulties faced by gay teens, excluding more nuanced, complex and empowered accounts of teenage sexuality. Although many gay teens are certainly vulnerable to bullying and harassment, these entrenched narratives of innocence and vulnerability have been used to justify both strong protectionism — e.g., through questionable hate crimes prosecutions — and ubiquitous paternalism — e.g., through “anti-bullying” monitoring and reporting — while obscuring the sexual agency of gay teens. This Article will (1) track the persistent use of a gay teen innocence narrative in several legal and cultural contexts; (2) explore how recent anti-bullying efforts reify such innocence at the potential expense of gay teens’ social and sexual agency; and (3) situate this filtering of gay teens’ experiences within the broader context of the LGBT rights movement.

Keywords: bullying, cyberbullying, LGBT, narrative, cyberlaw, civil rights

Suggested Citation

Gilden, Andrew, Cyberbullying and the Innocence Narrative (January 29, 2013). Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL), Vol. 48, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Andrew Gilden (Contact Author)

Willamette University - College of Law ( email )

245 Winter St. SE
Salem, OR 97301
United States

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