Gay bullying must end

In wake of suicides, schools face federal scrutiny

"When Matthew Shepard died, that's when folks really started to really pay attention to what was happening in the lesbian, gay, bisexual community outside of AIDS, and really focusing on youth," says Laura McGinnis, communications director for the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention group.

Allies of gay youth compiled research showing gay teens are overwhelmingly more likely than heterosexuals to face harassment at school. The most recent figures from GLSEN reported that 84.6 percent of LGBT students are verbally harassed. A third of gay kids had skipped school within the past month because they were afraid of their classmates.

A Northwestern University researcher just published the first longitudinal study on LGBT youth and suicide. It found that victims of bullying were two and a half times more likely to attempt suicide or hurt themselves. It also showed that even when the kids had supportive figures in their lives, harassment still correlated strongly with suicidal thoughts.

Dan Savage, right, and husband Terry Miller appear in the first "It Gets Better" video
courtesy of the IGBP
Dan Savage, right, and husband Terry Miller appear in the first "It Gets Better" video
Sen. Al Franken penned the federal Student Non-Discrimination Act after hearing from parents like Tammy Aaberg (right)
courtesy of Tammy Aaberg
Sen. Al Franken penned the federal Student Non-Discrimination Act after hearing from parents like Tammy Aaberg (right)

"The vast majority of LGBT youth in our sample had experienced some kind of victimization," says Dr. Brian Mustanski, the lead author and director of the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program. "People had spit on them or yelled at them, threatened or physically attacked them."

By the time the suicides of September 2010 arrived, the correlation between gay bullying and self-harm was becoming too obvious to ignore.

"We should no longer accept the idea that bullying is a rite of passage for young people," says Carolyn Laub, the founder and executive director of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network. "What we know from years of practice on the ground is that anti-LGBT bullying and harassment and name-calling are learned behaviors, and they can be interrupted and stopped."


What gay students go through isn't bullying as it's conventionally understood.

"Those kids have not been bullied; they've been harassed," says Dr. Susan Strauss, author of Sexual Harassment and Bullying: A Guide to Keeping Kids Safe and Holding Schools Accountable. "It requires the schools to respond differently. It's important for parents to know if the school doesn't respond, they can file charges with the state's department of civil rights."

In one GLSEN survey, a scant 9 percent of school principals believed anti-gay bullying was happening "often" in their schools. Nearly all of the schools had anti-bullying policies in place, but only 46 percent specifically mentioned sexual orientation. Similarly, 49 states have anti-bullying laws on the books, but only 14 of them include protection based specifically on sexual orientation or gender identity.

"You can craft that in such a way that the school has the ability to really step in with any bullying it sees, and at the same time put other schools and students on notice," says Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director with the Human Rights Campaign. "There are certain types of bullying that occur more frequently and are a huge problem, and we won't ignore it."

It's not just a matter of semantics. A growing body of research shows that students who attend schools with "enumerated" gay bullying policies heard fewer slurs and were one-third less likely to skip class. A California Safe Schools Coalition report found that kids felt safer in school when they knew they had access to information about LGBT issues.

"We know that there are things that happen in a school that make it less likely for these kinds of behaviors to be enacted," says Dr. Stacey Horn, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

That makes laws that attempt to cover up the gay bullying problem all the more insidious. States that have "no homo promo" laws on the books have significantly fewer Gay-Straight Alliances. This year, "Don't Say Gay" laws gained traction in Tennessee, Utah, and Missouri — they would make any mention of homosexuality in school impermissible.

And there are troubling new programs schools use to block potentially life-saving information. In Camdenton, Missouri, a school district fought back when the ACLU's Don't Filter Me Campaign asked it to dismantle web filtering software that prevented access to educational LGBT websites like Campus Pride. In the ensuing court case, a federal judge ruled that "Camdenton's internet-filter system stigmatizes, or at least burdens, websites expressing a positive view toward LGBT issues."

Camdenton may not be the worst of it, according to Chris Hampton, of the ACLU's LGBT Project. "We got tons of reports of this going on all over the place," she says. "We even found a few schools that blocked us while 'pray away the gay' websites are accessible."


In the internet age, bullying doesn't stop when kids leave school — it continues online.

Take Zach King for example. A 15-year-old boy from rural Ohio, King was beaten so badly in a high school classroom that two of his teeth were chipped. But it wasn't until King got home and logged in that he realized the beating had been recorded with a cell phone camera.

"It was posted to his Facebook wall," says Becky Collins, Zach's mom. "The wording was worse than the actual fight: 'Ha-ha, my cousin beat the fuck out of Zach King.'"

There's surprisingly little research on LGBT youth and cyberbullying. One small study out of Iowa State University found that of 444 mostly LGBT students, 54 percent had been cyberbullied in the last month — and 26 percent of those who had been bullied experienced suicidal thoughts as a result.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
27 comments
rightnow
rightnow

This article is more evidence that bullying is a national tragedy affecting young people across America and throughout Minnesota. We all need to take action against the source of bullying and let kids, parents, teachers, principals and politicians know that bullying is NOT okay. We all need to do something to make a difference. An amazing young singer-songwriter named Becca Levy is doing just that. She has started a music based anti bullying group called Right Now. Here’s a link to her video for a cover of “Right Now” by Van Halen. The purpose of the video is to promote awareness to kids using both music and the Internet. The video begins with a public service announcement and is full of statistics that people of all ages need to see. Becca lives in Washington, D.C. and just turned sixteen years old. Rightnowagainstbullying.com

Ronnie Maccallister
Ronnie Maccallister

I too, was bullied for my sexuality. Many, many times during my middle-school years, the bigger kids (relatively speaking, I was almost the smallest student) would taunt me with revolting, insult-laden scenarios and try to say I was screwing the ugliest, most unseemly-looking..... ....girls. Yes, that's right. I was bullied for my HETEROSEXUALITY. And those bullies would often physically push me into said females, all the while besides themselves with extasy. The point is, there is an infinite number of things aggressive kids can dream up to form a rationale to bully any given student. Shall we make special provisions in school policies and in the law to accomodate equally every one of those aforementioned traits? Not even remotely possible. So my question is, what makes gays so special? What makes them more worthy than me to get the Nations schools to corral resources and amend policies? What makes them more worthy than poverty-stricken kids, fat kids, kids with slight deformaties/odd physical nuances, or overtly religious kids? Whay dont' they get a day of silence? Why don't they get their own programs like Gay-Straight-Alliances? Why does the world stop every time a gay kid gets inconvenienced? Can you say, "Entitlement Status"? How can you possibly form a vedict with so many variables - the social dynamics and surging hormones that paint a teenagers world view; to find incontrovertible culpability to any one stressor and conclusively paint it as the solo cause for any given suicide? You can't, unless you're one who employs these trajedies as public-relations leverage for your social-engineering agenda.

JuliannaSmith
JuliannaSmith

There is nothing wrong being a gay. All of us have our own right to choose whatever we want to be. Discrimination is part of our life and i think all of us suffers from that but it doesn't valid reason to end our precious lives. Instead lets protect ourselves. I would like to share this safety application I found out from safetrec called the panic button. This application is a life saving tool that works on mobile phones. It can easily get help in times of real emergency. For further information about this application, just visit their website at: http://safetrec.com.

demandequality
demandequality

Arne Duncan's Office of Civil Rights is a joke - they do NOTHING to defend the rights of LGBTI children to have a fear-free education. They allowed the Anoka-Hennepin school district admniistrators to get away with murder - the suicides of the children who were bullied to death were swept under the rug. In fact if the children who were part of the lawsuit accuse the school administrators of violating their rights, they have to give their pittance of $45,000 back.

Luke Herbert who lives in Florida was viciously gay bashed in Flagler County School District. His mother filed an OCR complaint. OCR let the administrators off the hook too - they got to stop the investigation by posting this bogus school climate survey - that ANYONE can take https://www.surveymonkey.com/s...

OCR is about letting gay bashing administrators get away with violating the laws. There is not one case anywhere that resulted in the LGBTI student's right to an education without fear being upheld. Most of the students were forced out of school and OCR lied to parents about what they would do for their children. OCR incompetent idiots put the families through an emotional roller coaster. I know because I have been trying to help Luke's family and I experienced first-hand how OCR threw Luke under the bus and then ran him over.

JonnyBeGood
JonnyBeGood

All bullying must end - not just gay.

CinBlueland
CinBlueland

Just to ask, why is Romney's photo included in this article? Obama admitted to bullying a girl in school yet his picture isn't included? Are you advocating an end to bullying or muddying the waters by including a political endorsement?

Saynotogays
Saynotogays

o, mpt saying anyone should be bullied though. these are my opinions..

Saynotogays
Saynotogays

Maybe they shouldnt express they are gay? It is stupid sex and marriage is suppose to be between a man and a woman not a man and a man or a woman and a woman. the U.S should ban gay marriage and not support it.

DuluthToronto
DuluthToronto

Let me add some food for thought (Jack - choosing to be gay is such a stupid statement that I won't even respond. Just like white people commenting on Native American issues, straight people need to shut up about gay issues. We don't care what you think, you've done enough to damage our lives, and you don't even know what you're talking about).

With that said, the mental health quality of gay men and women must be looked at as a whole. I came out at 14 and was NEVER treated as terribly as I was by other gay people. The comments from straight kids are nothing in comparison to the rejection, unrealistic expectations from other gays (you better be rich, wear expensive clothes, have a masters degree, be able to afford a place in DT Mpls., and look like you've got money. Otherwise nobody's gonna talk to you). So much for 'it gets better' what a load of crap. The problem comes after we all come out, absent of social skills other young adults have, so gay kids each think they individually are these unique, amazingly sophisticated people without realizing hundreds of other gay people feel that way too. We are so selfish in the way we treat other gay people - either you fit 100% of my 'criteria' or don't even bother talking to me (even as friends!). My God! What happened to coming out being an affirmation that being different was okay, differences need to be celebrated and respected, and as gay people only making up 6-8% of the population, there's not enough room for all of us, even if we don't look perfect or are over 40 or live in public housing or work at a supermarket? Why have gays adopted this rich-bitch attitude with each other?

Jack
Jack

Dumb article! Why segregate gays? Why not address bullying as a whole? It is crap like this deviding this country! How about the "new kid in town" or " the Foreigner who transfers"? Gay is a choice, just like bullying! Defend all or defend none, but quit believing you are owed special circumstances just because of your perceived issues

StraightGrandmother
StraightGrandmother

Very Good article. Very well researched and written, loved the fact that the Journalist went and got direct quotes on the topic and didn't just rely on stuff grabbed off the internet.

I clicked on the Authors name and then went and read several more articles by Jessica Lussenhop all were of this same top quality. Jessica nice work, I predict bigger and better things for you in your future.

Deal With It
Deal With It

Bullying is US foreign policy -- how will we impose our failed system upon the rest of humanity in the name of "freedom" and "democracy" without bullying/state terrorism?

Mesears12
Mesears12

And that is why State and Church should not mix. You have your belief's and I have mine, I believe God created all people, and he loves all his children. He made men and women, black and white and he made gay people too. We are free to worship our beliefs in this great country but we are not to impose those beliefs on others. Freedom

Forwardpride
Forwardpride

Sorry you've had a negative experience--I've been out of the closet as bi since 1978 and have had a GREAT time (and I've always been poor and ugly). Certainly I've encountered some snobbish attitude in the gay community but in my experience it's been just a few people.

Jack
Jack

Hey Tonto, then quit shoving this shit down our throats! NO SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS, just because you are gay does not entitle you to anything. Idiot!

TheBlob
TheBlob

It kind of sounds like you have your own personal shit to work through that has nothing to do with this article. Maybe others in the gay community haven't accepted you because you're kind of a negative dick. Surely you don't believe that your experience with a small portion of the gay community extends to gays everywhere. That sounds an awful lot like something a homophobe would say.

JonnyBeGood
JonnyBeGood

"straight people need to shut up about gay issues. We don't care what you think"- Obviously you do because you want the majority to vote in your favor on issues that affect you. You, sir, are a complete idiot.

Brian
Brian

Exactly! Why segregate gays? Why not let gay couples have the same rights, right? Why not let people love who they want and have the same civil rights. Dividing the country indeed.

What would seem to indicate that being gay is a choice? The APA removed "gay" from the DSM (currently IV) in the early seventies. Science would not be on your side.

Forwardpride
Forwardpride

No one chooses to be gay; it's a beautiful part of nature, like left-handedness. So sad that you choose to be a lying asshole.

scottrose
scottrose

Stop your stupid gay-bashing and the stupid alibis that you then use to defend your stupid gay-bashing.

Andy H.
Andy H.

nice to hear from the mouth breather demographic...

Andy H.
Andy H.

Exactly! No special considerations, just THE SAME CONSIDERATIONS AS EVERYONE ELSE. ALL PEOPLE DESERVE THE EXACT SAME FREEDOMS, RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS. The special treatment gay people are asking for is called EQUAL rights, dumb fuck.

Brian
Brian

"NO SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS..." Does that mean that gay couples should also be allowed to marry? Or just straight couples? Remember, you said it: no special considerations.

Brian
Brian

Johnny, you just said that all bullying should end, but then you call Duluth a fucking idiot. Irony is not your friend.

Jack
Jack

To bad you are a douche!

Jack
Jack

go cry to your two Daddy's you stupid girlyboy

 
Minnesota Concert Tickets

Around The Web

Loading...