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Entries in gay teens (5)

Wednesday
Sep052012

Report on Homophobia in US Schools Finds It's Getting Better

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Life is getting better for LGBT students, according to a report that was released Wednesday by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Its 2011 National School Climate Survey finds that use of anti-gay language has continued to decline and, for the first time, victimization of students based on sexual orientation has begun to drop.

GLSEN, a national organization that focuses on ensuring safe schools for all students, has been documenting the experiences of LGBT students every two years since 1999.

The latest survey includes responses from 8,584 students between the ages of 13 and 20, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 3,224 unique school districts.

GLSEN collected data through national and community-based organizations and targeted online advertising on Facebook.

"We are seeing a trend and we are seeing it sustained over time," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said.  "The picture out there still remains unacceptable, but it's a consistent story -- in places where schools act and do the right thing, students do better.  There are pockets of hope in this picture."

Byard said schools appear to be safer places for LGBT students for four main reasons: support and response from trained adults; bullying prevention programs; gay-straight alliances that give LGBT students a sense of community; and "accurate and positive depictions" of those students in the curriculum.

"This marks the 12th school year that I have worked at GLSEN on these issues," she said.  "The work is hard, and when you see how bad it can be out there and to actually see change begin to happen in historical time, it's thrilling and critical to keep going."

In 2001, when there was, according to Byard, "a sea of disrespect," an estimated 84.3 percent of students said they heard daily use of words like "faggot" and "dyke."  Today, that number has dropped to 71.2 percent.  After hitting a spike in the expression, "That's so gay," in 2007, usage began to drop, in part because of a GLSEN campaign with the Ad Council that was launched in the fall of 2008.

Despite this progress, the survey found a majority of LGBT students are still faced with obstacles that affect their school performance and psychological well-being.

Nearly 82 percent said they had been harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and nearly 64 percent said they felt unsafe.  Almost 30 percent said they had skipped a day of school in the last month because of safety concerns.

Transgender students experienced more hostile school climates than their gay and lesbian peers -- 80 percent reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

Parents of Tyler Clementi Speak Out About Son's Suicide

Tyler Clementi/Facebook(NEW YORK) -- Two days before Tyler Clementi went off to college, he told his mother he was gay. 

She described him as being relieved and eager to go off to college.  That is why Joe and Jane Clementi, his parents, were so shocked when one month later, he committed suicide.

However, they also admitted Tyler sent an instant message to a friend after coming out to them in which he said, "It’s a good thing dad is ok w/it...mom has basically completely rejected me." Jane Clementi insisted she was shocked, but didn't reject her son.

"Over those two days we had further discussions," his mother said.  "I needed a little time and had to process it, I was like, 'You're sure you want to go to school?' and he was, 'Yes, and I'm going to do this and that,' you know, classes and organizations.  He was very upbeat about going."

The Rutgers University freshman killed himself after his roommate allegedly used a webcam to stream video of him kissing another man.  And now, in the midst of their grief, his parents are committed to supporting others faced with bullying or considering suicide, especially because of their sexual orientation.

Fifteen months after their youngest son jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge, they have created The Tyler Clementi Foundation. They say it is their attempt to harness all the attention his death garnered and channel it for something good. "Something good has to come out from such a terrible tragedy," said Jane Clementi.

The foundation is intended to promote awareness, education and intervention for young people at risk for suicide, especially in the LGBT community.

"It just seems the time has come to address this problem," Joe Clementi said.  "We want to help people.  We love Tyler very much and we want to help as many people as possible.  We were devastated by the loss of our son, and we still are."

"I'd like to see the teen suicide rate driven down," Joe went on to say.  "I'd like to see incidences of cyber bullying driven down and I'd like to see better acceptance for LBGT teens."

While they would not comment on the upcoming trial of Dahrun Ravi, Clementi's roommate who will stand trial in February on 15 offenses, including bias intimidation, they did say they have never heard an apology or anything from Ravi or Molly Wei, whose computer Ravi allegedly used.

"It's not necessary, probably," Jane said. "It would help for the accountability to know they're talking accountability for their actions, for whatever alleged actions they've been charged with, but it's not necessary for my healing.  We'll heal without that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct172011

Gay Student Claims Taped Kiss Got Him Booted from Cheer Squad

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- A Texas high school denied claims by a gay student that he was booted from the cheerleading squad because he was spotted on surveillance tape kissing another boy, but declined to say why he was cut.

The 17-year-old boy, who doesn’t want to be identified, was a member of the varsity cheerleading team at Alice High School in southern Texas until he was removed from the roster last week. He was also suspended from school for two days.

The school district said in a statement Monday that it “has recently reviewed the recent removal of a student from the Alice High School Cheerleading Squad. After reviewing the Alice I.S.D. Student Code of Conduct and the Cheer Program Handbook, the removal will stay in effect. The student’s parents are in agreement with the district’s decision.”

“The student and parents are clearly aware that the student was not removed from the squad for kissing another student at school. While the student is free to discuss certain aspects of his discipline in the media, the District cannot discuss the specifics of this incident and must respect the privacy rights of the students involved in this matter,” the statement said.

The teen says he’s being punished because he was seen on surveillance video kissing another male student in the band room. According to the school handbook, students can be taped by security cameras when they’re on campus, and the principal reviews the video routinely to document student misconduct and “discipline students in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.”

Public displays of affection are not prohibited in the student handbook, and the teen says they’re common at his school.

“If that were the case, suspending everyone for [kissing], half the school would be suspended,” he said. He argues that he wouldn’t have been punished if he was seen kissing a female student, and he was being targeted due to his sexual orientation.

Chuck Smith, deputy executive director with Equality Texas, says the main issue in this case is whether the school’s rules are being enforced equally for all students.

But, the student says the district has its priorities wrong: “They should be paying more attention to drugs and alcohol use than kicking a person off a team for kissing.”

It is unclear what, if any, further action the student plans to take against the school.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep232011

Jamey Rodemeyer Suicide: Police Consider Criminal Bullying Charges

ABC News / Handout(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Police have opened a criminal investigation into the suicide death of Buffalo, N.Y., 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who was bullied online with gay slurs for more than a year.

The teen's parents, friends and even Lady Gaga, who was his idol, have expressed outrage about what they say was relentless torment on social networking websites.

The Amherst Police Department's Special Victims Unit has said it will determine whether to charge some students with harassment, cyber-harassment or hate crimes.  Police said three students in particular might have been involved.  Rodemeyer was a student at Heim Middle School.

Rodemeyer had just started his freshman year at Williamsville North High School, but the bullying had begun during middle school, according to his parents.  He had told family and friends that he had endured hateful comments in school and online, mostly related to his sexual orientation.

The teenager was found dead outside his home Sunday morning, but Amherst police would not release any details on how he killed himself.

"The special victims unit is looking into the circumstances prior to his death," Captain Michael Camilleri said.  "We are not sure if there is anything criminal or not."

No bullying laws exist in New York State, according to Camilleri, so police would have to determine whether aggravated harassment charges fit this case.  Whether suspects would be tried in juvenile court would depend on whether the alleged bully was 16 or older, he said.

Police said they had spoken with Williamsville School Superintendent Scott G. Martzloff, who has pledged the district's cooperation.

"We've heard that there were some specific students, an identifiable group of students, that had specifically targeted Jamey, or had been picking on him for a period of time," Police Chief John C. Askey told The Buffalo News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct272010

Laura Bush Lends Support to Bullied Gay Teens

Photo Courtesy - Archie Carpenter/Getty Images(LONG BEACH, Calif.) -- Former first lady Laura Bush, who came out in support of gay marriage and abortion after she vacated the White House, split again with some social conservatives to back anti-bullying measures intended to protect gay teens.

"Bullying of every kind, certainly gay teens, but any children is really terrible," Bush said in an interview Tuesday for the Yahoo Newsmakers series at the Women's Conference 2010 in California.

"We've read cases of children on the Internet where kids are committing suicide. It's really terrible. As adults, we have to be the ones who do something about it," Bush said in reference to a spate of recent suicides by gay teens, including Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge after his roommate surreptitiously broadcast a private sexual encounter on the Internet.

Bush said she was proud of openly gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, who was one of the first public officials to share a story of being bullied as a teenager and tell young people "it will get better."

Since then, celebrities and politicians, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama, have videotaped messages of hope directed at gay teens, as part of an online campaign called It Gets Better.

In May, more than a year after leaving the White House with President George W. Bush, the first lady admitted publicly that she and her husband "disagree" on many social issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage.

Despite her newfound willingness to diverge from her husband, Bush was careful with her words when talking about Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"Sarah Palin is Sarah Palin," Bush said in response to a question about how the one-time GOP vice presidential candidate has reshaped the way women run for office. "That's her style. It's obviously been effective. There are a lot of people who watch her and want her support."

Bush said she did not know whether Palin, who has recently visited Iowa and publicly endorsed a slate of candidates from across the country, would run for president in 2012.

"[Palin's] out there," Bush said. "She's speaking everywhere, but I don't know if that's because she wants to run. I have no idea."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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