As we all know, discussion about gay teen suicide has swelled over the last week. Why the sudden increase? Who is to blame? What needs to be done about the problem? Read on for reactions and opinions on the subject from members of the gay community, journalists and others.
Dan Savage points the finger at who is partly to blame for the recent suicides of gay teens like Tyler Clementi: "Tyler's roommate did not act alone. There are accomplices out there: uncaring teachers, criminally negligent school administrators, classmates who bullied and harassed Tyler, "Christian" churches and hate groups that warp some young minds and torment others, politicians on the right and left who exploit and perpetuate anti-gay prejudice, perhaps even Tyler's own family. We need to learn more. And more charges need to be brought. Not just criminal charges against a couple of stupid teenagers who should've known better but didn't. But ethical charges need to leveled against adults and institutions that knew better but didn't care."
Salon's take on Tyler Clementi's story: "I think the part of Clementi's story that most appeals to a larger sense of moral outrage is the availability of two easily identifiable villains: The teenagers who giggled at their prank, filming the gay roommate and showing the world his private moment. But is that, alone, really what drove Clementi off the edge? Most of the other kids identified above lived through years of merciless taunting, humiliation, terrorized because their honest, naked selves didn't fit in. Surely Clementi's roommate, whom he considered a decent roommate in a lot of ways, wasn't the first person to single him out for ridicule, though he may have been the first to live-stream it. But I don't think that one act drove him to suicide, except in combination with the homophobia that Clementi envisioned raining down on him, full blast, for the rest of his life. He felt it coming from all areas of the country, all eyes on him and not just seeing him but judging him, laughing at him, condemning him to hell."
Teaching Tolerance, a division of The Southern Poverty Law Center, will premiere Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History in Washington, DC on Tuesday: "Bullied chronicles the powerful story of a student who stood up to his anti-gay tormentors and filed a federal lawsuit against his school district. The suit led to a landmark federal court decision holding that school officials could be held accountable for not stopping the harassment and abuse of gay students."
NOM's Maggie Gallagher continues to disgust by making the ridiculous claim that ânothing in the press accounts suggest the kids who did this were motivated by homophobia.â
Tehachapi Unified School District announces that it will work with the city's police department "to hold an assembly on tolerance" (though I think it should actually be an assembly on acceptance) after 13-year-old Asher Brown's suicide.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued this statement: "This week, we sadly lost two 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."
Just this summer GLSEN published a report on the bullying of gay teens: "The 2009 survey of 7,261 middle and high school students found that at school nearly 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. Nearly a third of LGBT students skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns."
Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director Hayley Gorenberg believes in creating laws against bullying: "But sympathy is not enough–we all have a responsibility to take action, and to keep working until all young people are safe and respected, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity. We must push for laws on the federal level and in every state that prohibit bullying and discrimination. We must hold people accountable, and use the courts when necessary. And most importantly, we must love and teach all our children to be their best selves and to respect and support others to do the same."
Watch video of a tribute held for Clementi at Rutgers just yesterday, AFTER THE JUMP.
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