One is too many. Six demands action.
“Back to school” isn’t supposed to mean a return to bullying, torment, fear or suicide. Yet this September it meant just that for too many LGBT and presumed to be LGBT children and youth.
In the last four weeks the relentless drumbeat announcing yet another LGBT youth suicide has been simply horrible. One would be too many. Six compels us all to act.
Our hearts go out to the families, friends and classmates who have experienced the unimaginable grief that accompanies this kind of loss.
Asher Brown, 13, Cypress, Texas, Sept. 23rd 2010
Seth Walsh, 13, Tehachapi, California, Sept 19, 2010
Justin Aaberg, 15, Anoka, Minnesota, July 09, 2010
Billy Lucas, 15, Greensburg, Indiana, Sept. 09, 2010
Tyler Clementi, 18, Ridgewood, New Jersey, Sept 22, 2010
Raymond Chase, 19, Monticello, New York, Sept. 29, 2010
These LGBT youth and their legacy must become our collective commitment. Every child deserves a safe school and an opportunity to learn, and among those deserving children are LGBT youth and the children of LGBT-headed families.
Bullying, harassment and assault have consequences. Chief among those consequences is a victim’s desperate sense of aloneness, of helplessness, and the belief that no one will stand with them, that no one can or will help and that life will forever bring this torment.
It’s long past time to send LGBT children and youth, as well as those who would bully them, a very different message. You are not alone. We will stand with you. We will protect you. There will be a better day, a different day.
We WILL protect our youth.
LGBT community groups and The Center are organizing a set of activities this month to focus upon the problems of school bullying of LGBT youth, youth from LGBT-headed families and all other youth who are not safe in schools. As a part of these activities we will be attempting some coordinated response with the school systems themselves regarding bullying prevention, intervention and local resources. Stay-tuned for details and actions you can help support.
Those interested in getting involved immediately should contact Carlos Marquez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents and pastors, educators and elected officials, legislators and law enforcement — all of us must answer the call to Protect Our Children. We all have an inarguable human duty to protect and intervene.
***Important local resources are available and we need to ensure those resources are readily available to families, youth and children. Below are some key numbers:
• The San Diego LGBT Community Center, Counseling Services available for youth and families: (619) 692-2077
• The San Diego LGBT Community Center, Hillcrest Youth Center: (619) 497-2920, ext. 113
• Trevor Project: LGBT Youth National Hotline. Call 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386). All calls are confidential and toll-free from anywhere in the United States, 24/7.
***GLSEN 2009 National School Climate Survey (www.glsen.org)
7, 261 students, ages 13-21, from all 50 states surveyed
• 85% were verbally harassed (called names or threatened) at school because of their sexual orientation
• 72% heard frequently or often heard remarks like faggot and dyke at school
• 61% felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. This is the highest percentage of students who felt unsafe at school as compared to students who felt marginalized because of faith, color, disability or for other reasons.
• 53% were harassed or threatened by their peers via electronic mediums (cyber bullying)
• 40% were physically harassed (pushed/shoved) at school because of their sexual orientation
• 19% were physically assaulted (punched, kicked, injured with a weapon) because of their sexual orientation
• 62% of students who were harassed or assaulted did not report it, in large part because they believed no one would/could help them
• Absenteeism: LGBT students who experienced harassment and assault were 3X more likely to have missed school days/classes
• Lowered aspirations and achievement: LGBT students who experienced harassment and assault were more likely to have lowered grades and to say they had no plans to complete or continue their education
• In-school experiences of harassment and assault were related to poorer psychological well-being (higher depression, higher anxiety, lower self-esteem) for LGBT students
Students in schools with the following were less likely to feel unsafe, were less likely to be victimized, were less likely to miss school days because of feeling uncomfortable or afraid, and were more likely to report harassment and assault and be more pleased with the outcome.
• Gay-Straight Alliances
• Inclusive curriculum that includes ALL families
• Identified supportive educators
• Schools with comprehensive/inclusive harassment policies and laws that students are aware of and know how to utilize to protect themselves, and the clear, identified presence of adults who will help to protect them
Help us send the message – We WILL Protect Our Youth.
Dr. Delores A. Jacobs
Chief Executive Officer
The San Diego LGBT Community Center