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It’s back to school season, some people may have already gone back to school, but in a matter of weeks, it will be back to the grind. But for many queer students, as well as those who don’t "fit in", school can be a nightmare. I will be continuing my crusade to bring the tough provisions of New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights here to Pennsylvania (or Philadelphia, at the very least), but something from Western Pennsylvania has made me proud.

Jen McKendrick is a photographer from Indiana County, who recently posted on her blog that she won’t photograph "ugly people". At first glance, this may seem like some looksist, elitist, photography company, but look at the last paragraph:

On a whim yesterday after seeing something that was so appalling, I decided I was going to email some of my clients to tell them “I’m sorry but I won’t take your photos”.

Let me explain. Last night I posted on facebook the following: “If I’m wrong, please speak up. I came across a page on facebook that was created (by someone under a ficticious name) thats purpose is to bully, ridicule and say mean and hurtful things about their class mates. While visiting the page, I found several teenage girls that have scheduled sessions with me for their senior pictures. I am emailing them tomorrow to cancel their shoots. I do not want them to represent my business and I am beside myself at how MEAN and CRUEL they were on that page.” As I was drafting the email that I was going to send out to the clients my phone was blowing up with comments.

She is a self-employed photographer who, and it goes without saying, is fully responsible whether her business is successful or fails. In this case, she refused a few bucks (and sent back their $200 deposits, although I wish she could have taken those deposits and donated them to an appropriate cause) to take a stand against bullying. She gives me hope, because dammit, she put principle and character over the almighty dollar.

I write this blog with an instruction. If you live in Western Pennsylvania, and you want to be photographed, please give this wonderful person your business. Especially since she took a stand, not just against bullying, but anti-queer bullying as well:

"It was beyond ‘your clothes are ugly’ or ‘you don’t have any brand clothes’ or ‘you are ugly, your hair is not right.’ It was vicious. It was talking about sexuality," McKendrick said.

-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis

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