Let Us Value the Lives of LGBT Youth
Itï¿½s difficult, yet impersonal, for most of us to learn of tragedies via the news media. We find ourselves thinking subconsciously, ï¿½At least that isnï¿½t happening to my family.ï¿½
But this time it was our family. And it was happening over and over, seemingly every day. Our LGBT young people were killing themselves rather than endure societally sanctioned abuse.
As we read, listened to and watched the reports, many of us knew that this wasnï¿½t a new phenomenon. This time around, the cluster of reportage and its coupling with cause and identity might have been novel, but queer kids and adults have been harassed to death for ages.
According to the 2009 National School Climate Survey from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), ï¿½nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation.ï¿½
One in five youths between ages 11 and 18 has been a victim of cyberbullying or participated in it, according to a survey of 4,400 children conducted this year by the Cyberbullying Research Center.
Stephen T. Russell, a family and consumer sciences professor at the University of Arizona, co-wrote a study published in the November 2010 edition of Developmental Psychology. His research links compromised mental health to in-school bullying and harassment for LGBT youth who donï¿½t conform to gender norms.
Although persevering through hardship can build character, itï¿½s not for a bully to say how much abuse of a classmate will ï¿½toughen him up.ï¿½ That sissy who is being berated is probably already one of the toughest kids around. But no one should be forced to endure daily, unrelenting torture.
Responses to the teen suicides of this fall were swift and numerous. Concerned community members held vigils locally and across the nation. Celebrities, politicians and ordinary people recorded positive messages for the It Gets Better Project (itgetsbetterproject.com).
Take that, New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, Oklahoma state legislator Sally Kern, Mormon leader Boyd K. Packer, Focus on the Familyï