Gay Teen Bullying/Suicide Crisis Updates & Action: How We’re Living Now

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.

Media Responses:

+ 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.

+ Asher Brown’s friends & family remember the fallen 13 year old.

+ 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)

+ P-Town holds a vigil for gay suicide victims.

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.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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  1. For a more symbolic way of showing support, October 20th is “Spirit Day”. (On the LGBTQ flag, purple represents “spirit”). If you want to participate and honor all the gay teens we’ve lost to suicide recently, wear purple Oct. 20th. I’ll be there.

    (There’s a facebook event if you’d like to invite friends/spread the word:

    • On a response-related note, thank god the federal government has taken some kind of notice and awarded money to help solve this! Obviously throwing money won’t solve everything, but it sure can help. Too bad it’s not on a national level, but it’s a start, right?

      All of this has been horrible, totally devastating…but at least it’s in the media. At least people are beginning to pay attention. It is my greatest hope that this will become a turning point against bullying and gay harassment.

  2. Im aware that this is an American based website but I know for a fact that a lot of people who read it are from different countries too so maybe it’d be a good idea to post the numbers or web sites of places that can help gays and gay ladies living in other countries. Because you never know, when someone is looking up resources to help deal with bullying or another problem it’s likely that this would be one of the first sites that comes up. For example here’s the website for the Dublin lesbian line which also has links for other sites and things that can be of use to anyone in this country who may need help->

    • This is a good thing.

      I know in the UK and Ireland there are the Samaritans.
      UK: 08457 90 90 90
      ROI: 1850 60 90 90

      You can call them anytime, 24 hours a day, there are no names and no judgement and you don’t have to be suicidal to call. But if you just need to talk to someone, or you can’t see a way out, you an phone them.

      Also lots of city have branches where you can drop in and talk to a person face to face, and they will just listen to you, and you never have to see them again if you don’t want to.

      All of this is confidential and free, and so much better than leaving us. Stay.

      • I should have said, the Samaritans are not queer specific, but I am told you can go along and be a big queer at them and it is totally cool.

        • Here there is also Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87. They are open Mon-Thurs 6pm-2am and 6pm Friday-6am Monday, for anyone who is feeling down or depressed or just needs to talk to someone.

          There is also the Lesbian & Gay switchboard. There are different ones for different areas of the UK so you need to google for your area but they can give information, support and referral to local resources that can help you. The service is for transgender and questioning people too.

  3. Arne Duncun, the Secretary of Education was quoted as saying that people need to stand up against intolerance. I feel like DADT and laws banning gay marriage tell kids that gay bullying is OK because there are laws set up by the most powerful people in our country that show kids that gay people are “not equal.” Until there are equal rights, teens who aren’t informed could be under the impression that adults think that its okay to treat gay people in a negative way.

    Also, why wasn’t their a huge amount of publicity after two deaths or one…how come it takes so many deaths for people to try to send young people a message that bullying is not okay. I feel like PSA commercials like the ones for domestic violence and teen pregnancy on MTV should coincide with ones against hate crimes and bullying all the time. Our society doesn’t use enough preventative advertising.

  4. thanks for posting this. tyler wilson is super sweet, i mean i look at adults and college students that are bullies and think wtf is wrong with you? but then this 11-year-old trumps all of them with maturity and insight and determination.

  5. The best suicide prevention for queer youth is, and always has been, local LGBT youth groups. In person. Those groups have been getting less money from national orgs. This kinda stuff needs to be grassroots because it needs to be in person.

    Here’s interview with Executive Director of the LGBT Youth group I went to as a teen:

  6. Ugh, all this bullying and suicide makes me want to break down and cry. I was fortunate enough to never have been harassed in high school (well, other than the time I was called a rugmuncher in front of my entire grade, but I just brushed it off), but clearly thats not necessarily the norm. I think I’m going to bring this topic up to my Sexuality and Social Life professor and ask if we can discuss this issue in class because it definitely needs to be known to as many as people as possible.

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