Image Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner BrosOn today’s Ellen DeGeneres Show, Madonna adds her voice to those supporting gay teens and calling for an end to bullying. “I know a number of people have spoken out about it, but I feel like I need to say something. The gay community has been incredibly supportive of me. I wouldn’t have a career if it weren’t for the gay community … I have a teenage daughter and I have ongoing discussions with her about this topic, so I feel like I need to say a few words,” Madonna says, via satellite. The singer claims to knows what it’s like to feel isolated and alienated as a youth. When did things change for her? She tells DeGeneres, “It wasn’t until my ballet teacher, who was also gay, took me under his wing and introduced me to a community of artists of other unique individuals who told me it was good and okay to be different and brought me to my first gay disco and ironically made me feel I was part of the world and it was okay to be different.” How does she talk to her kids about bullying? “We talk a lot about the importance of not judging people who are different. Not judging people who don’t fit into our expected view of what’s cool and what isn’t,” she says. “Think about it across the board. The concept that we are torturing teenagers because they are gay … It’s unfathomable. It’s like lynching black people or Hitler exterminating Jews. Sorry if I’m going on a rampage right now, but this is America. The land of the free and the home of the brave….”

Madonna also issues a challenge, which she believes could be a solution: “I think it would be interesting for everybody to try one simple experiment … 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 about better about yourself…”

What do you think? Could the Madonna Plan work? I don’t know that telling a teen they’ll have “more free time” gets the job done. But I like the idea of asking teens to walk away from people who are gossiping and bullying. Even if you’re not saying anything, by standing there and listening to it, you’re telling that person that what they’re saying is acceptable. I remember in high school, I found out that a close male friend of mine, who was dating my best friend, listened to another guy tear me down on a regular basis in physics lab. He never added to the conversation, which he thought was a good compromise because he didn’t want to lose this guy as a friend. But I could never understand why he wouldn’t at least tell him, “She’s a friend of mine. If you want to talk about her like that, don’t do it around me.” That’s a fair thing to say. (For the record: I still have no idea why that guy hated me … even after I interrupted an AP history class to announce to him — and the room — “I know you hate me. Why do you hate me?”)

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