Last week was really hard. We told you about it every single day as it happened and now we are to the part where the world starts fixing the problem, and talking about it.
We have the basic landscape of what’s happening in Things Currently Breaking Your Heart.
+ The New York Times, Suicides Put Light on Pressures of Gay Teenagers: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says “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,”
+ Love Is Louder is a project sponsored by MTV and the Jed Foundation and featuring Brittany Snow of Hairspray and American Dreams that aims to combat teen bullying and suicide. It allows users to upload videos providing support to teens in need, and sharing their own stories to help others. Snow was bullied in high school and lost a close friend to suicide, and wants to “spread messages of love and hope to teens who feel they might have run out of options.” The project is supported by The Trevor Project, Reach Out, Active Minds and the Ad Council. It has the same basic premise as the It Gets Better project, and less of a focus on queer teens, but it’s important and kind of groundbreaking that an organization as mainstream and popular as MTV is acknowledging this problem, instead of dismissing it as something that’s unimportant because it primarily affects a marginalized community. (@mtv)
+ Judy Shepard spoke with Velvet Park Media on bullying of gay and perceived-to-be gay teens, and really if anyone in America should be treated as an authority on the subject, it’s her. “Suicide is a complicated problem and it is too easy to casually blame it on a single factor in a young person’s life, but it is clear that mistreatment by others has a tremendously negative effect on a young person’s sense of self worth and colors how he or she sees the world around them. Parents, educators and peers in the community need to be vigilant to the warning signs of suicide and other self-destructive behaviors in the young people in their lives, and help them find resources to be healthy and productive. We urge any LGBT youth contemplating suicide to immediately reach out to The Trevor Project, day or night, at (866) 4-U-TREVOR [866-488-7386].”(@velvetpark)
+ On Gawker, What It’s Like to be A Gay Teen: “Imagine your worst high school memory and multiply it by ten and that is how bad it is for many gay teenagers every day.”
Cases – Updates and Additions:
+ Tyler Clementi: Was the Rutgers’ Web Voyeurism Incident a Hate Crime?: “As the uproar surrounding the suicide of 18-year-old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi escalates, prosecutors are considering whether they can charge the students who broadcast video of Tyler making out with a man before his death with a hate crime.”
+ Tyler Wilson: Eleven-year-old Tyler Wilson had his arm broken by classmates slinging homophobic slurs after joining a previously all-female cheerleading squad. HE IS ELEVEN YEARS OLD. He says he plans on continuing, because it’s his choice and also he’s a fucking superhero, seriously. (@queerty)
+ Someone was really mean to a gay teenager and hurt her/made her cry. I don’t know. It was really upsetting. Is anyone keeping a tally? Add one more.
Vigils and Memorials:
+ Governor Patterson leads NY Vigil for gay youth, featuring Cheyenne Jackson singing Over the Rainbow: “Led by Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson, tonight thousands of LGBT activists and allies gathered in a gentle rain in Manhattan’s Washington Square to join in a beautifully muted and mournful rendition of Over The Rainbow in honor of LGBT youth. You might need a tissue for this recording made by JMG reader Richard. I’ll follow this post with some photos, but this unspeakably sorrowful moment in our lives deserves its own post.”
+ Candlelight vigil held at Rutgers & NYU for Tyler Clementi.
+ Seth Walsh and Asher Brown, both 13, were laid to rest this week. Walsh was remembered at a memorial service with over 500 attendees in Tehachapi, California, and Brown in Houston. (@ontopmag)
Action for the Future:
+ The LA Gay and Lesbian Center has just won a $13 million grant from the federal government, which will go towards providing support to queer youth in the foster care system. This is the largest grant ever given to an LGBT organization by the government. “By developing and leading a 19 organization collaborative that will include foster care agencies, researchers and government departments, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will create a comprehensive system of care to help LGBTQ youth stay in school, and in homes where they feel safe and welcomed, until adulthood.” The issue of queer teen homelessness and queer teens in foster care is intimately connected with queer teen suicide; the number of queer kids in foster care is disproportionately huge because so many have been disowned or displaced by homophobic families, which also contributes to the disproportionately huge queer teen suicide rate. The truth is that while things like the It Gets Better project are beautiful and important, in order to actually solve the concrete life problems that suicidal teens are facing, you need money. So this is good news, and $13 million is a lot of money, so let’s cross our fingers for this one. (@sdgln)
+ The National Education Policy Center has asked two experts to come up with clear policy recommendations in the wake of the recent suicides, in an effort to make steps towards changing school climate in a concrete way. The results were released this week at a National Education Association event, and Safe at School: Addressing the School Environment and LGBT Safety Through Policy and Legislation makes recommendations about what changes can be made in legislature and statutory code to address “safety issues.” One of the authors of the piece was quoted as saying “In this area, educators are not required to change their personal values or religious beliefs. However, all students must be treated with equal dignity and equal respect by school officials, both under the law and as a matter of morality and common decency.” (@wapo)
+ This list was conducted with a lot of help from Sugarbutch’s roundup of responses and news stories on the topic!
Okay. So this week is important. Let’s all be super nice and honest to each other please.