Thursday, September 30, 2010
This is an epidemic.
Last week, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi killed himself by jumping off a bridge after his roommate secretly recorded him with another male student, then broadcast the video online.
I wish I could tell you this was an isolated incident. But Tyler's death as a victim of anti-gay harassment was just one of a number of recent suicides among teenagers who were ruthlessly "bullied to death."
Our schools and our nation cannot sit back and wait for the next tragedy. So today, we're calling on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to speak out immediately – and to push every school anti-bullying program in the nation to include sexual orientation and gender identity like HRC's Welcoming Schools program. Please stand with us.
Tyler wasn't the only one.
After months of relentless bullying, 13-year-old Seth Walsh hung himself from a tree outside his California home this week. Billy Lucas of Indiana was 15 years old when he hung himself after being called a "fag" over and over again. Asher Brown's classmates teased him without mercy and acted out mock gay sex acts in class, and last Thursday he shot himself in the head. He was only 13.
And a single district in Minnesota has seen seven suicides in the last year by young victims of intolerance. As a virulently anti-LGBT candidate seeks the governor's chair (a man who could decide the fate of anti-bullying measures), it's clear that the very lives of Minnesota's children are at stake.
This isn't a new problem. It's been happening for decades. And too often, administrators fail to act, even after parents complain about the bullying at school.
That's why HRC developed Welcoming Schools, an innovative program that gives elementary school teachers, parents and students across the country the tools to help stop the name-calling, bullying and gender stereotyping that so many students face every day. It helps kids learn respect and tolerance early on, to prevent violence later in middle and high school.
But it's up to those who run our schools – from Secretary Duncan down to every local school board – to act to end the bullying.
Secretary Duncan: No more children should be bullied to death. Help stop anti-LGBT harassment in schools now.
Once you take action, I hope you'll write a letter to the editor of your local paper. I hope you'll also let educators and administrators in your local school district know about www.welcomingschools.org and explain why you want to see Welcoming Schools in elementary schools near you. The more we spread the word, the better our chances of preventing another tragedy.
If school officials don't act, more young lives will be tragically lost. We can't let that happen.
La Crosse, Wisconsin police are investigating an incident in which a man shoved a 14 year-old girl in an attempt to wrestle away a version of the gay pride flag the teen was going to carry in the city's Maple Leaf Parade.
The teen was rollerblading and carrying a flag pole with two rainbow flags — one a hybrid of the American flag and the gay pride flag — as members of 7 Rivers LGBT Resource Center’s float prepared for the parade about 9:45 a.m. Saturday on Rose Street, said Roseanne St. Sauver, the center’s executive director. Commodore Mark Schneider, who was on a float nearby, approached the girl and put his hands on the flagpole, St. Sauver said. St. Sauver walked over, placed her hands on the pole and told him, “Please stop, she’s a 14-year-old child." “He said, ‘I do not care. Look what you are teaching them,’” St. Sauver said. That’s when, St. Sauver said, Schneider shoved the girl with his body. St. Sauver said Schneider told the girl: “Go to a country where they will hang people like you.“ The incident left the teen crying, and others upset, St. Sauver said. This is the first year the center has participated in the parade. “I had tears in my eyes,” she said. “He specifically targeted us and made statements about our sexual orientation.”Schneider says he was upset about the alteration of the American flag and not anybody's sexuality. Yeah, right. Yesterday he issued an apology to the girl and his family, presumably in return for assault charges being dropped. Here's the asshat in a news story about his being named "commodore" of Riverfest 2010.
The New York Times reports more details about the suicide of 18 year-old Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate streamed live video of Clementi having sex with a man. Clementi's final Facebook update: "Jumping off the gw bridge. sorry."
It started with a Twitter message on Sept. 19: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” That night, the authorities say, the Rutgers University student who sent the message used a camera in his dormitory room to stream the roommate’s intimate encounter live on the Internet. [snip] The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office said Mr. Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, N.J., and another classmate, Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton Junction, N.J., had each been charged with two counts of invasion of privacy for using “the camera to view and transmit a live image” of Mr. Clementi.Ravi is claiming that the first broadcast of Clementi was an accident, but police say he attempted a second live-stream two days later. Last night police recovered the body of a red-headed young man from the banks of the Hudson River. The family will make the identification today.
The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of five years. Mr. Ravi was charged with two additional counts of invasion of privacy for trying a similar live feed on the Internet on Sept. 21, the day before the suicide. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, James O’Neill, said the investigation was continuing, but he declined to “speculate on additional charges.” Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said Wednesday that he considered the death a hate crime. “We are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport,” he said in a statement.
PhoboQuotable - Eugene Delgaudio
"Last night, I had a dream. It was 2011 and Republicans were celebrating a sweep of the House and near takeover of the Senate. But that dream became a nightmare. A wounded soldier sat in a veteran’s hospital after returning from Afghanistan. Noticeably shaken, his doctor walked in and choked out the worst news of this young soldier’s life: He’d been infected with HIV. You see, the doctor informed him that his wounds came in contact with those of a practicing homosexual, now allowed to serve in our military. 'How could this happen?' the soldier expressed shock and disappointment right before I awoke.
"Today I was reminded of several disturbing news stories. Left and right I see conservatives -- even some good conservatives -- who no longer seem to care. And that’s when it hit me. In my nightmare, conservative Americans had been too busy focusing on jobs and the economy before the November elections. Distracted, they failed to maintain a committed resistance to the Homosexual Agenda." - Public Advocate head Eugene Delguadio, from a fundraising plea titled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Stalled In Senate By Public Advocate.
Send him money! He single-handedly stopped the repeal of DADT!
Mike Ludwig, Truthout: "An anonymous cadet at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) spoke out against alleged religious discrimination at the school last week, saying that some cadets must pretend to be evangelical Christians in order to maintain standing among their peers and superiors. In an email to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the whistleblower stated that he is part of an 'underground group' of about 100 cadets who cannot rely on proper channels to confront evangelical pressure. The email, published by Veterans Today, applauds the MRFF from the 'underground' and indicates that the academy is 'literally overrun with Christian conservative fanatics.'"