Gay Youth: We’re Who You’re Not F*cking With

A little while ago, I wrote about anti-gay bullying and homophobia, and how the effects of both are physically and mentally damaging to the lives of gay people. The conclusion: gay bullying is not a “fact of life,” and it needs to stop. And well, we’re in luck- because it soon may be a thing of the past.

GET READY FOR SOME EXCITING UPDATES!

Even though the government in the U.S. might be blowing up a little bit over things like abortion, money, and blah, blah, blah, it appears that some Senators still have it in them. The proof? The re-introduction of The Safe Schools Improvement Act, a piece of legislation addressing bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Tuesday. Still not convinced? The bill has bipartisan support. You heard that right! The bill’s lead sponsors are both Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, and Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican.

The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has endorsed the measure – and so have their member schools.

Casey sponsored this bill last session, but it never made it out of committee. Representative Linda Sanchez in California is expected to introduce a companion bill in the House soon. She did this last session as well.

The act requires schools and districts to adopt codes of conflict that prevent anti-gay bullying (among bullying motivated by other factors) and to report data on bullying to the Department of Education. The schools required to participate are, of course, those receiving federal funds (sorry Catholics!) and the data will go straight to Congress via the DoE.

And as if having administrators forcibly on your side, the moms are coming around, too! A badass mom, Elvira Diaz, who has a transgendered child, testified on behalf of Nevada State Senate bill SB-180, which expands liability for some crimes to include motivation by gender expression. I love you so I am giving you the video of her emotional and beautiful speech right here.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 921 articles for us.

23 Comments

  1. this is great!

    my college gsa has been pressing the administration to include gender identity in their anti-discrimination rules. what we’ve found out (not surprisingly) is that a lot of the old white men who govern things here didn’t know there was such a thing as a gender identity. yet they seem fully committed to putting the law in the books!

  2. It will be interesting if this law ever exists in a state where lgbt teachers are not protected by an anti discrimination policy.

    No bullying, but the grownups can fire your gay ass.

    I mean, I would hope that would lead to someone pointing out the illogicality.

    But… this is great.

  3. Damn, we really could have used this back when I was in school. But better late than never!

    This all sounds great on paper, but I wonder how effective it’ll be in practice. You can have the greatest policies in the world, but they still rely on people (who often have their own bigotry clouding their judgement) to enforce them. When I was in school, there was one boy who may or may not have been gay, but who was definitely effeminate. Extremely so. And the bullying was so bad, it escalated to full on death threats, with kids driving by and shooting at his house from their trucks in the middle of the night (Wyoming: The Equality State!). Supposedly there were No Tolerance policies already on the books regarding weapons on school grounds, but the teachers did fuck all when other boys pulled knives on this kid during lunch. The teachers were homophobic shits themselves and basically believed this kid was asking for it and this was a normal reaction to his mere existence.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I really want to get excited about this, but I’ve lived in hardcore red states far too long.

    • I’ve read that, with anti-discrimination laws and racism in the civil rights era, the effectiveness was never because bigots were terrified that they’d be caught and convicted if they discriminated. Rather, the laws gave unbigoted white people a lever to use in backroom arguments with bigots. Instead of trying to argue Joe Racist out of all his BS, Mike NotRacist could say, “Yeah, Joe, I know, but still there’s this law and we don’t want to get caught, right?”

  4. Hi from Germany, and I know that maybe this doesn’t interest you at all because I’m bad at writing comments and my English sucks, but I think it’s always cool to hear that what you’re dreaming of can actually become true, like an awesome series in mainstream tv with teenage dream sung by a group of boys AND hot characters that are openly queer… and now i’m going to describe to you what I’ve always taken for granted, like, as an inspiration or motivation or whatever, I warned you, Im bad at writing comments: I’m out at my school, and noone cares. And if someone would bother, people would stand up for me. Everybody knows I’m a bisexual, de-beauvoir-reading, die-hard feminist. I’m even going to a catholic school, that’s considered to be the worst place for “people like me”, and still I feel safe. I can’t really believe how people can actually bully anyone for being queer without noticing that they are embarassing themselves and outing themselves as incredibly dumb. America is pretty far away, so I can’t really help in any way, but I just wanted to tell you that it can really happen, and to keep on fighting because if we can do it in this shitty conservative country, it must be possible for you too, that when you find out that your child is queer you’re only worrying about them getting run over at the crowded csd but not about them having any problems at school ;)
    pretty long post considered i only wanted to tell you how awesome you are and to keep up the work because it’s worth it ;)

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