Jesse Tyler Ferguson Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson may have been bullied in his younger years, but he's the one getting the last laugh.

The Emmy nominated star joined his fellow Modern Family cast members on Friday night to be honored at the GLSEN Respect Awards for the show's work in displaying positive storylines that reflect a diverse America.

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The openly gay star switched schools in his youth because of bullying, but he found solace in knowing that high school would only be a blip over his lifetime.

"One thing that got me through that time was knowing that there's a much larger world outside of high school," Ferguson says. "Four years is a really long when you're a kid and being bullied, but to know that I had 50 or 60 years outside of high school where I was going to live the life I was going to live and not worry about bullies was huge for me."

He hopes that others can realize that there is life outside of being kicked, having your hair pulled and eating alone in the lunch room — all things the 34-year-old actor experienced. "Also, I had horrible grades because I couldn't focus. I feel like I was cheated of an education too because I was so worried about keeping myself safe."

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As for those bullies out there, Ferguson says, "They need to realize that... it's just not OK to treat anyone like that. Also, for the kids who are on the fence about bullying, just leave the [other] kids alone. Let them live their lives. If you feel like you can't be friends with them, don't let the response be to kick them in the face.

"Every life is valuable," Ferguson says, adding that there is counseling out there that can help the victims of anti-gay harassment, including The Trevor Project.

Check out a humorous PSA that Ferguson and his on-screen partner, Eric Stonestreet, filmed for The Trevor Project below: