Teen Bullied for Being Gay: What Would You Do?

Would you step in to stop a bully from yelling homophobic slurs?

October 26, 2010, 12:10 PM

Oct. 29, 2010— -- It's an epidemic that has seemingly touched every corner of America: kids being bullied for being gay.

Anti-gay bullying has entire high schools heartbroken, parents childless and families torn apart.

Just this fall, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death after he'd allegedly had an intimate experience with another man that was broadcast to the campus via his roommate's webcam.

In September alone, nine young people -- gay or merely suspected of being gay -- took their lives after being bullied.

But what would people do if they witnessed this kind of hatred taking place right in front of them? Would they feel compelled to jump in?

In light of these recent tragedies, ABC News' "What Would You Do?" went to find out.

We rigged a busy boardwalk in Long Beach, N.Y., with hidden cameras and hired teenage actors to play bigoted bullies and a defenseless victim.

Click here to watch the latest episode of "What Would You Do?"

"You're a disgusting homo!" one bully yells. Our victim covers his face, his eyes filling with tears. "What do you have in that bag? Fairy dust?"

The insults keep coming as bystanders fill the boardwalk.

Then we start to notice an alarming trend. Despite the bullies' relentless taunting, most people pass the group without saying a word. Our victim yells "stop!" and tries to get away from the three bullies but they keep blocking him at every turn.

Some people watch in the distance -- pausing for a moment to stare but eventually just continue on.

For 15 minutes, no one seems the least bit interested in stopping the harassment. Some tell us they simply didn't think it was their business to get involved.

"It wasn't at a point where I thought I should jump in," one man said. "I just didn't feel it was my place to step in."

'I Was Ready to Punch One of Them'

Just when we think no one will step in to defend our victim, suddenly, out of nowhere, a man appears and immediately gets involved.

"Leave him alone! Leave him alone!" he shouts at the bullies. He even positions himself in between the bullies and the victim -- forcing them to move away.

Mike Brady later tells us he survived a hit-and-run accident over 20 years ago; he was left with only one working hand as a result of his injuries – but that didn't stop him from stepping up to protect a victim in need.

"Well, I went over to him [and] say, what's going on here?...And you know, I was ready to punch one of them with my left hand, but that didn't happen, thank God."

Later in the day, we meet another Good Samaritan -- who instead of whizzing by on his bike as so many did before him, slows to take on the bullies.

Not only does he manage to scare them away, but he quietly stands guard over our victim for over 10 minutes before we arrive and explain that he's been part of What Would You Do?

We later learn Jeff Kupferman is a retired social worker who used to work in a local school.

Kupferman had a message for those who, over two days of taping in Long Beach, witnessed our gay bullying and did nothing to stop it.

"It's not just about letting somebody be picked on," he said. "being bullied and being harassed...and, and it's a normal part of growing up. It's not a normal part of growing up."

Click here to watch the latest episode of "What Would You Do?"->