Bullying | Iowa | News

Gay Iowa HS Student Acted as Anonymous Twitter Angel for Fellow Bullied Teens

Matt Shankles, a gay sophomore high school student in Marion, Iowa who says he has been bullied relentlessly for his sexuality, is getting praise for the work he has done as an anti-bullying advocate after he was revealed to be the anonymous author of a Twitter account that reached out to other bullied teens.

ShanklesMarion Patch reports:

Shankles is most known around school for a Twitter account he started last fall.

Shankles said a Linn-Mar student started a Twitter account specifically to harass students, divulge unflattering secrets and spread false rumors. So, Shankles decided to create a rival Twitter account to tweet kind words to ridiculed students. The handle is linn_mar_love.

But he knew he couldn’t take ownership of the account. Despite his advocacy work, Shankles is still bullied. He said he can’t walk home from school alone without having derogatory words shouted at him from cars. So he remained anonymous to keep his credibility.

"You can pull through this! Stay strong! Don't let him get to you ever," he Tweeted to a student ridiculed by the bullying Twitter handle, which has since gone offline.

Last week he officially revealed himself to be the author of the Twitter feed linn_mar_love and said he was approached by many students that were bullied. He said the trust they have shown him and has been amazing.

"Within the past three days I have felt very empowered," he said. "I have the power to make so much more."

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  1. Gay red haired student whose name rhymes with ankles can make a difference and not let the bullying stop him . Good for him !
    Matt I invite you to make an it gets bette r video

    Posted by: Bob | May 1, 2012 2:26:28 PM

  2. I hope someone will come forward and in turn help Matt Shankles because he's still being bullied and as has been shown to be the case in the past, some of these kids that appear very positive on social media are the very ones who later commit suicide.

    If it's to be more than just a slogan, then the It Gets Better people and others concerned about bullying, should be contacting him and offering him their help because I think he's going to need it especially as he's now revealed his identity.

    Posted by: sara | May 1, 2012 2:27:34 PM

  3. And he's a ginger. Some guys just can't get a brake.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 1, 2012 2:33:35 PM

  4. A video of Matt giving a speech given at Linn-Mar's 2012 Diversity Fair is on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/5NlANSAi8mA Well done to him for taking a stand and for making a change.

    Posted by: John | May 1, 2012 2:34:30 PM

  5. Kids like Matt are why we're winning.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | May 1, 2012 2:40:06 PM

  6. Hero. A word can be misused. But not in this case.

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | May 1, 2012 3:10:06 PM

  7. Right on, kid. Go on with your awesome self. :)

    Posted by: The Milkman | May 1, 2012 3:11:11 PM

  8. Every person in the gay community needs to watch out for this guy, and when you see him, help him any way you can. :D

    Posted by: Spudger | May 1, 2012 3:22:20 PM

  9. I agree. This young man is a hero. I hope this story gains more ground and Ellen can get him a scholarship or internship as well.

    Posted by: Kieran | May 1, 2012 3:23:12 PM

  10. Thanks for all the support. Also, I have never been bullied for my last name or my hair color. :P

    Posted by: Matt | May 1, 2012 3:26:58 PM

  11. Way to go, Matt! Thanks for setting the example for the rest of us!

    Posted by: Jason R. | May 1, 2012 3:34:49 PM

  12. Paging Ellen Degeneres! Seems like this kid needs a visit to her show to talk about his experience and why he started the anti-bullying twitter. What a strong and smart young man. Kids these days give me so much hope.

    Posted by: Smartypants | May 1, 2012 4:48:29 PM

  13. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NlANSAi8mA

    This is my Speech at my school

    Posted by: Matt | May 1, 2012 4:50:50 PM

  14. Matt, you're a real hero, and those are hard to find. Keep on being kind and courageous... you should be very proud of what you've done.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | May 1, 2012 5:19:28 PM

  15. Matt-

    Loved your speech, and the advocacy of including "any other distinguishing characteristic" is the way out of protected classes and comparative victimhood that hobble the struggle for full civil equality.

    Posted by: Rich | May 1, 2012 5:22:14 PM

  16. I can't put into words what I feel, really, because this is so amazing, so brave, so genuinely positive, but I can say that, I agree with what others have said, you're a hero, Matt. You really are and the speech you gave at your school was so well versed and heartfelt. Especially given what you deal with, to have the strength to come out and stand strong in the face of such hate really speaks wonders about your character.

    Posted by: Francis | May 1, 2012 6:07:01 PM

  17. Good job young man. Good job. As we use to say in the Navy: Bravo Zulu! I would suggest that you enroll in some Martial Arts school so that you can be as prepared physically as you are intellectually to confront bullies. Stay strong!

    Posted by: jack | May 1, 2012 6:14:51 PM

  18. I listened to the speech. This is a very smart kid. He is brave and self-aware. He has so much potential. Kids like him give me hope for the future.

    Posted by: Jay | May 1, 2012 7:45:03 PM

  19. Matt, you are more than a hero--you're a freaking white knight in lion T-shirt. :) When I was in 9th grade I made anonymous goody bags for everyone in my class and posted them around school in an (unsuccessful) attempt to bring everyone together and stop the hate; what you're doing, however, utilizes electronic media in a brilliant way to "buck up" those who've been damaged or hurt by cruelty. Please, please take good care of yourself, and know that thousands of people have your back. Big hugs and best wishes!

    Posted by: Dback | May 2, 2012 10:12:41 AM

  20. Just listened to Matt's speech! Wow, what an amazing person. As an Iowa boy myself, it is good to see another generation working to make things better. Good luck, Matt. Keep us posted on how we can help.

    Posted by: TruthSeeker_Too | May 2, 2012 12:33:33 PM

  21. Rob thank you so much for finding and posting these stories. They do my heart good! You are the best.

    Posted by: Shadow Sterling | May 5, 2012 4:33:25 PM

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