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Education Sect. Arne Duncan Comes Out Against Anti-Gay Bullying


Education Secretary Arne Duncan released a refreshingly stern statement this afternoon about anti-gay bullying, which led to the suicides of at least four men this week:

This week, we sadly lost [four] young men who took their own lives for one unacceptable reason: they were being bullied and harassed because they were openly gay or believed to be gay. These unnecessary tragedies come on the heels of at least three other young people taking their own lives because the trauma of being bullied and harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation was too much to bear.

This is a moment where every one of us - parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and all people of conscience - needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms. Whether it's students harassing other students because of ethnicity, disability or religion; or an adult, public official harassing the President of the University of Michigan student body because he is gay, it is time we as a country said enough. No more. This must stop.

I'm glad to see the Obama Administration addressing this horrific trend. I'm also hopeful that all of this attention, particularly around Tyler Clementi, will help this nation move toward a more inclusive, or at least considerate, future.

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  1. Releasing a press statement late Friday afternoon is about as effective as delivering it straight to the shredder.

    Posted by: BobN | Oct 1, 2010 7:05:37 PM

  2. no kidding BobN

    Posted by: neverstops | Oct 1, 2010 7:30:59 PM

  3. Why is Duncan only now making a statement? Anti-gay bullying has been around for ages. I have no faith in Duncan nor do I have any faith in any representative of the Obama administration. It's a homophobic administration. Bush's was more gay-friendly.

    Even if you were to take Duncan at his word, what is he actually going to do about it? He's got nothing to offer us. Issuing a statement is the easiest thing to do. It's as easy as writing a post on towleroad.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 1, 2010 8:02:27 PM

  4. Not to mention the Education Secretary can't count. He needs to re-do his math.

    Posted by: Kit | Oct 1, 2010 8:03:12 PM

  5. "Bush's was more gay-friendly."

    Let's not get deranged.

    We'll know if there's something to this statement if it is followed up next week.

    Friday afternoon doesn't have to be the dumping ground it usually is.

    I just hope the timing wasn't intentional.

    Posted by: BobN | Oct 1, 2010 8:10:41 PM

  6. Damned if they do, damned if they don't. Would you rather they didn't make a statement against bullying? Because the Republicans believe that anti-gay bullying doesn't exist and that naming it is encouraging the gay lifestyle. Only idiots like Jason could interpret a statement against homophobia as homophobic and evidence of the gay-friendliness of the Bush administration. The mind boggles.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 1, 2010 8:12:30 PM

  7. Jason's statement was over the top but BOBN is right, releasing something on a Friday is like not putting out a press release at all. In fact, whenever a company or a politician has bad news they send it out on a Friday afternoon so it'll get reported on a weekend when people have better things to do than sit around and watch the news. By Monday morning it's a whole new news cycle and the report goes down the memory hole.

    Posted by: missanthrope | Oct 1, 2010 8:32:17 PM

  8. Kevin Jennings

    GLSEN Public Policy Office

    1012 14th Street, N.W.

    Suite 1105

    Washington D.C. 20005

    October 1, 2010

    Dear Mr. Jennings:

    As a former public school teacher, parent, and out gay man I am extremely puzzled by the fact that you have not used your influence with the Secretary of Education to install a zero-tolerance national law for anti-bullying, specifically to protect LGBT students who are some of the highest at-risk students for bullying. I would hope that the recent suicides of four gay students would demonstrate the absolute necessity for this type of specific law. There need to be nationwide protections/laws put in place, specifically for LGBT students. These protections need to be more than just lip-service; there need to be concrete consequences for bullies. If bullies and their parents know that they will be expelled from school (if it is proven/formally documented that they harassed a peer based on his or her perceived/real sexual orientation) then I am sure it will drastically lower the number of cases of harassment. There also need to be specific legal consequences for teachers, school administrators, and school district personnel who knowingly ignore harassment /bullying of LGBT students including possible termination and potential lawsuits. It is the responsibility of ALL school employees to ensure a safe environment where every student is guaranteed to be treated with respect and dignity. If they fail to at least attempt to provide this type of safe school environment, then they are not fulfilling their obligation as school district employees and should be reprimanded.

    Please use your influence with the Obama administration to pass these laws now. You have the power to turn the tragedy of these four recent suicides into something positive for all LGBT students. In addition to the potential suicides it would ultimately prevent, it would serve to give President Obama a much-needed boost in the minds of the LGBT voters who helped to elect him president.

    Thank you,

    Stephen Thorn

    Posted by: Frederick | Oct 1, 2010 8:59:50 PM

  9. It seems to me good that he released the statement sooner rather than 3 days later. If he released it Monday it would be several more days yet after Mr. Clementi's suicide.

    It's an excellent, responsible statement in any case.

    I am especially pleased that he alluded to the scandalously insane public official in Michigan.

    Posted by: good for duncan | Oct 1, 2010 9:13:36 PM

  10. The timing is appropriate given how the news of the suicides unfolded this week. I fail to see how releasing a strong statement against homophobic bullying and harassment is a negative thing, particularly since the right-wing refuses to name homophobia or acknowledge that anti-gay bullying is real, yet it is being turned into another indication of what the administration is doing wrong.

    No one is suggesting that the administration can't or shouldn't do a lot more, but it seems to me that when an Education Secretary indicates he is on our side, we should use that as an opportunity to encourage them to go further, rather than immediately dismiss the gesture as irrelevant, or worse, an example of how Bush was superior.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 1, 2010 9:41:14 PM

  11. Hmmmm. Nice that he released the statement. However let's not forget how the Obama administration has done nothing for LGBT rights. DADT, DOMA, ENDA? Nothing. We live in a country where if you are gay you are regarded as worthless and expendable. F*** you Obama, you horrible, useless bigot.

    Posted by: Steve Collins | Oct 1, 2010 10:00:34 PM

  12. Duncan's words on gay bullying are as credible as Obama's on DADT repeal.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 1, 2010 10:02:34 PM

  13. "...Bush's was more gay-friendly...."


    Whatever u log cabinites r taking, stop bogarting it

    LOL who knew Oxycontin was halucinogenic

    Posted by: | Oct 1, 2010 10:23:02 PM

  14. PS

    Jason, is that u ken mehlman?????

    obviously Jason u never voted for Obama to begin with or any dem ever nor plan to per ur

    "......Bush's was more gay-friendly...."

    So, dudu ur crying about what Obama has or has not done per gay rights is BS.

    Posted by: | Oct 1, 2010 10:26:43 PM

  15. Sadly, in a week this will all be forgotten. The Republicans, FOX News, McCain, Palin, the Catholic church, NOM, AFA, the Tea Party, Sally Kern, Ruben Diaz, religious leaders will continue with their hate rhetoric, and unfortunately, many will be elected to office....

    The words and actions against gays equate accessory. They have blood on their hands. These fatal results were caused by people just like them.

    Remembering teens Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh & Tyler Clementi. They were someones loved children.

    Posted by: CB | Oct 1, 2010 10:45:52 PM

  16. Jason, you confirm your status as one of the most ridiculous apologists for Republicans, or uninformed idiots, or both, on this status.

    "Bush's was more gay-friendly."

    Yeah, because repeatedly stressing that marriage needed to be "defended" from gay people and trying to write anti-gay bias into the federal Constitution and appointing Alito to the Supreme Court and Ashcroft as AG, etc., etc. was so much more "friendly" than signing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act or securing the support of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs Chair for repeal of DADT and extending benefits to partners of LGBT employees. Obama must really hate us! Oh, how I long for those good old "friendly" days when the Republicans were in power!

    Posted by: Patric | Oct 2, 2010 12:06:35 AM

  17. There has been so much talk about Tyler Clementi being bullied because of his sexuality, which is exactly what happened. Why then are most people saying, including Ravi's attorney that there is no way in hell NJ will be able to turn this into a hate crime charge? It seems pretty obvious to me that Tyler was targeted by Ravi and Wei strictly because he was gay and that is why they wanted to record him. All the tweets Ravi sent out point to the same thing. I think only Garden State Equality has officially come out saying that this was definitely a hate crime. Is it because it is still so early? I would hate to see those 2 get only 5 years..more people, organizations, celebs, politicians need to come out and make it clear that this was a hate crime and not just invasion of privacy, I hope they do in the next few someone else mentioned this poor kid most likely will be forgotten by most by next week but those 2 bastards broke the law because he was gay and they thought they'd get away with it..and if he didn't jump they probably would have sadly..Rutgers has some town hall meetings this weekend on this set up by local gay organizations for anyone in or near jersey

    Posted by: Petero | Oct 2, 2010 12:51:57 AM

  18. Whatever the Government is or is not doing, note that Katie Couric featured the subject of anti-gay bullying on both Thursday's and Friday's evening newscasts.

    Perhaps we need to re-learn the lesson of the Plague Years, and look to ourselves to make sure that no future Tyler Clementi need face the George Washington Bridge alone.

    Posted by: Rich | Oct 2, 2010 1:00:04 AM

  19. Does anyone know could the ACLU get involved in the Clementi case as a civil liberties issue? I would think that recording someone without their knowledge or consent would fall under a violation of civil liberties but not sure

    Posted by: Tommytime | Oct 2, 2010 1:55:31 AM

  20. I think the statement is great, though a statement from the secretary of education can only do so much---no matter what day it's issued.

    @Rich is absolutely right: we need to help solve this problem ourselves instead of expecting anyone to help fight or fix it for us. Gays should be really angry right now for myriad reasons. At the moment our best allies are a few real newscasters (such as Maddow) and pseudo ones (such as Jon Stewart). We need to start fighting our own battles very forcefully and vocally. We've obviously learned we can't trust any politician of nearly any stripe to do so.

    Posted by: Paul R | Oct 2, 2010 5:21:36 AM

  21. Intolerance in all forms should also be applied to intolerance for same-sex marriage. If only it were so that societies in general were able to transcend sexuality in terms of it being a non-issue when it comes to the public domain, except for non-consensual acts and with minors, we will always have the Matthew Shepherds and the Clementi's become rallying cries for this all to end....but it won't.

    Posted by: Kenn | Oct 2, 2010 8:08:59 AM

  22. Bush's Administration was not more gay friendly. In 2005 Spellings had an educational program that received grant money not air an episode where the character travelled to VT to visit a farm ran by a lesbian couple. The focus of the show was the farm but the very idea that it would have a lesbian in the background as a typical family just simply wasn't the right thing for children to see on television was her opinion.
    Do I think this Administration, the one of change, is doing enough? No. Any time you do something remotely related to children and LGBT issues, the comeback is that you are pushing a gay agenda or perverting children. Sadly, the problem is that politically the Administration just won't stand up for what is right. There is a group of insiders selling out these issues for fear of public backlash. I suppose is has something to do with the whole need to be reelected. Hope apparently is for heterosexuals who want to be reeelected (which I totally get)at the expense of some who get shortchanged.

    Posted by: Christopher | Oct 2, 2010 10:09:23 AM

  23. Disagree that the Tyler Clementi situation was a "hate crime." Sad, tragic, unfortunate. But, at least from the few details that made the papers, it seems like it was more a case of stupid college students being stupid college students. " roommate having sex! With a dude!"

    IMO, hate crimes are born of actual anti-gay sentiments, which don't seem to be the case here. I may be wrong, but it feels like the guy might have taped his straight roommate having sex, too. No?

    Posted by: Jolyon Helterman | Oct 2, 2010 11:35:42 AM

  24. Jolyon, the answer is, NO. The perpetrator was definitely titillated by the sensationalist factor of his roommate being w/ a man & knew it would make the situation more scandalous. I doubt very much that he would have broadcast a woman- clearly that would offend, but a homo? no problem.

    As for Arne Duncan & the release & the timing... get over it people, that's the most rational, direct, common-sense response from a nat'l level appt likely ever- I hope he copies his boss on it.

    Posted by: stephen | Oct 2, 2010 4:24:57 PM

  25. This I hate to tell you IS a Hate Crime and the fact that people don't see that really scares me. Ravi tweeted on Aug 22 that he just found out his roommate was gay and directed all his friends to Tyler's postings on a gay website to make fun of. This was 9 days before classes even began. He knew that a man would be coming to their room that night when he set up the webcam. He knew Tyler was gay and targeted him because of that fact. HATE CRIME. Ravi and Wei committed a crime with the purpose of intimidating someone based on their sexual orientation. That is considered a Hate Crime in the state of NJ. Molly Wei is just as responsible, if she had done anything but just sit there and illegally spy on Tyler Clementi he may still be alive but she didn't, she spied on him illegally with the purpose of intimidating Tyler based on his sexual orientation, that is a Hate Crime. 

    Those two deserve more than just the 5 years for the invasion of privacy. Who knows how many other people in the future these two will terrorize to the point of death. 

    They targeted him because he was gay...HATE CRIME

    Posted by: Joey | Oct 2, 2010 7:58:23 PM

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