During a satellite appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Tuesday, Madonna makes a heartfelt plea to end bullying in America.
"I'm incredibly disturbed and saddened by the overwhelming number of teen suicides that have been reported lately because of bullying," she says. "Suicide in general is disturbing. Teenagers committing suicide is extremely disturbing, but to hear that teenagers are taking their lives because they are being bullied in schools and dormitories, what have you, is kind of unfathomable."
Madonna, now 52, says she was bullied as a kid growing up in Michigan.
"I still feel different," she says. "I can totally relate to the idea of feeling isolated and alienated. I was incredibly lonely as a child, as a teenager. I have to say I never felt like I fit in in school. I wasn't a jock. I wasn't an intellectual. There was no group that I felt a part of. I just felt like a weirdo."
It wasn't until her ballet teacher, who was gay, took her under his wing and introduced her to a community of artists that she felt "it was OK to be different," she says.
The gay community "has been incredibly supportive of me," she says. "I wouldn't have a career if it weren't for the gay community."
She says she's been talking to her children 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. "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...."
Her solution? "I think it would be interesting for everybody to try one simple experiment: Try to get through the day ... without gossiping about somebody," she says. "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."