Day of Silence April 15th 2011
April 14, 2011

Friday, April 15th is the National Day of Silence sponsored by GLSEN. To find out how you can participate go to their website:

http://www.dayofsilence.org/

GLSEN Day of Silence PSA with Lance Bass:

http://youtu.be/T8kNYV5EAVw

Take action. Be a part of the solution. Let’s replace the prejudice and hatred with compassion and Respect for All.

-MsQueer

©2011 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved (NOTE: ALL quotes and/or materials from other authors or sources remain the sole property of the original authors/source.)

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It Gets Better Project – Deb Adler
September 28, 2010

Here’s the video and the text from my submission to the “It Gets Better Project” on You Tube.

Hi. My name is Deb Adler. I’ve been out for about 40 years. I’m a singer-songwriter. I’ve been a professional actor, a businesswoman, an entrepreneur, and I‘m also the author of a blog called MsQueer.com.

I just wanted to share with you that whatever you’re experiencing today as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender youth in school…it does get better…

Whatever you might be feeling right now…it’s not “Forever” – and whatever you’re facing right now in terms of how other kids treat you at school – or even your family – it’s really just temporary. Just hang in there…it gets better.

I was this total tom-boy in grade school. They didn’t use labels like “Butch” – or “Dyke” then. I always played with the boys, I excelled in sports.

I didn’t really get harassed by my peers, but I had this fifth grade teacher who called my parents in for a conference because she felt they should be concerned that I wasn’t more “lady-like” and didn’t involve myself in more “girl-type” activities. My mom told her to back off and leave me alone – in no uncertain terms – which I think was pretty cool!

Even though I didn’t experience bullying in school, I can remember being really confused and scared by thoughts of wanting to lean over and kiss the girls in my class – as early as grade school – and feelings of attraction that I didn’t understand. I got really scared.

I thought I was sick or bad or something. I didn’t know. I mean, it’s not like there were celebrity role models – like Ellen or Rosie – around at that time. There were NO popular TV Shows or movies that dealt with being Queer. There was nobody I could talk to, so I had to keep this giant secret – that I didn’t understand and was afraid of – all to myself.  All I knew was I was different, and I was pretty sure my “difference” wasn’t socially acceptable. I was convinced that if anyone found out the truth about me they’d haul me away and lock me up forever.  So that’s what I lived with.

But I survived! And that’s the point. You can get through whatever you’re experiencing.

It Does gets Better.

I had thoughts of ending my life, but I’m really glad today that I didn’t! There are so many experiences I would have lost out on if I had ended my life as a teen.

In high school, I earned my school letter playing sports in Girl’s Athletic Association; I was elected President of that organization in my senior year, I was active in the Girl Scouts all through High School – and got teased for that – but we went camping and did cool stuff – we worked for three years and organized a week-long trip to Washington DC. – that the other kids didn’t get – and we had a blast!

I wrote songs, I sang in choirs; I even had the lead in the senior play, which was really kind of funny because I had to kiss a guy on stage in this big scene and that was really awkward! But I didn’t hide. I was active in school; I excelled at the things I loved.  And that helped get me through.

I got to be a camp counselor and met some really great women – some of them are still friends today. If I had ended my life early, I would have missed out on all that, and so much more.

See when you don’t allow other people’s opinions of you to rule your life, they become powerless. If kids talked about me, I did my best to ignore it. I found friends and teachers who supported me and cared about me and that’s who I interacted with.

And It Does Get Better.

When I went away to college, I discovered this amazing book by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons called Lesbian/Woman, and these ladies had it together. They had already been together as a couple for years -in the Fifties! – and their message was – We’re okay. I was so relieved to find out who I was and what I was about….I started writing “coming out” songs and singing at rallies and special events. I started accepting me. Once we accept and get to love ourselves…we find others who accept and love us.

I’ve been part of a global humanitarian volunteer organization for over twenty five years and I have friends –straight, gay, old, young – from all over the world who love and accept me for who I am. We’ve done some amazing things together helping others, building projects, cultural programs, traveling all over the States and Canada – that’s been so rewarding.  I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it!

Bottom line – I’m okay – you’re okay, and We are okay GAY. – or Bi, or Trans – or however you call yourself.

So if you’re being bullied by kids in school, they’re just acting out their own ignorance. Don’t let someone else’s stupidity screw up your life.  It gets better.

If someone’s harassing you on Facebook or Twitter – UNFRIEND them. You don’t have to put up with their crap! Don’t interact with the haters. Stay with the winners.

It gets better – I know being harassed isn’t fun and it can be really painful at times, even but you know what – I came through recovery from addiction over 30 years ago – one day at a time – sometimes one moment at a time, and if I can do it – you can do it.

Nothing is forever. There’s a better life waiting for you at the end of school.

If things get too overwhelming or you think there’s no one to talk to – there are resources out there – like The Trevor Project. That’s a 24/7 Nationwide Helpline for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning youth. Call them. There are compassionate understanding people at the other end of that phone line. Their number is 1-866-488-7386. Website is www.thetrevorproject.org

So just hang in there. It Does Get Better. You have gifts to give to this world – stick around! Learn to be proud of who you are. There’s a lot of life out there to live – and love.

I want to share with you a quote from a woman of both Native American and European heritage, known to many as an ambassador for peace, an advocate for human rights, and my spiritual mentor for over 25 years. Her name is Grandmother Parisha, and I’ve never met anyone more inclusive, more accepting than her. She’s had her own life’s challenges – here’s what she says:

“I am an old warrior, I have my scars,  and I have counted my losses,

but I am stronger than ever and I am not running away,

I am here for the distance.

You can depend on me.

When your faith is weak, walk with mine.”

(from A Joyful Day by Parisha Taylor. © Copyright 2007 Parisha Online. All Rights Reserved)

I can’t count the times I’ve drawn on that. So today I’m here to say to you, It Definitely Gets Better. If that isn’t your experience right now, then draw from mine, and from the countless others making videos just like this one to share their experience and hope with you. Because we do know. It Gets Better.

You’re a good person, and You are loved. So stick around. There are great things out there in the world waiting for you – just around the corner. Hang in there.

It gets Better, and Better, and Better – Guaranteed!

:)MsQueer, aka Deb Adler

©2010 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved. (with the aforementioned exception of Grandmother Parisha’s quote taken from “A Joyful Day” by Parisha Taylor. © Copyright 2007 Parisha Online. All Rights Reserved)

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Awesome “It Gets Better” Project
September 23, 2010

There is a new video project on YouTube that I found through Facebook via The Trevor Project and GLSEN posts – how’s THAT for Social Networking!

So here’s the deal (directly from the description on YT): “If you’re gay or lesbian or bi or trans, and you’ve ever read about a kid like Billy Lucas and thought, “Fuck, I wish I could’ve told him that it gets better,” this is your chance. We can’t help Billy, but there are lots of other Billys out there—other despairing LGBT kids who are being bullied and harassed, kids who don’t think they have a future—and we can help them….”

http://www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject

Here’s the background from Dan Savage, as it appears in his column “Savage Love” at http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=4940874

I just read about a gay teenager in Indiana—Billy Lucas—who killed himself after being taunted by his classmates. Now his Facebook memorial page is being defaced by people posting homophobic comments. It’s just heartbreaking and sickening. What the hell can we do?

Gay Bullying Victim Who Survived

Another gay teenager in another small town has killed himself—hope you’re pleased with yourselves, Tony Perkins and all the other “Christians” out there who oppose anti-bullying programs (and give actual Christians a bad name).

Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother’s property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.

Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.

“My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas,” a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. “I wish I could have told you that things get better.”

I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.

So here’s what you can do, GBVWS: Make a video. Tell them it gets better.

I’ve launched a channel on YouTube—www ­.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject—to host these videos. My normally camera-shy husband and I already posted one. We both went to Christian schools and we were both bullied—he had it a lot worse than I did—and we are living proof that it gets better. We don’t dwell too much on the past. Instead, we talk mostly about all the meaningful things in our lives now—our families, our friends (gay and straight), the places we’ve gone and things we’ve experienced—that we would’ve missed out on if we’d killed ourselves then.

“You gotta give ’em hope,” Harvey Milk said.

Today we have the power to give these kids hope. We have the tools to reach out to them and tell our stories and let them know that it does get better. Online support groups are great, GLSEN does amazing work, the Trevor Project is invaluable. But many LGBT youth can’t picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can’t imagine a future for themselves. So let’s show them what our lives are like, let’s show them what the future may hold in store for them.

The video my husband and I made is up now—all by itself. I’d like to add submissions from other gay and lesbian adults—singles and couples, with kids or without, established in careers or just starting out, urban and rural, of all races and religious backgrounds. (Go to www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject to find instructions for submitting your video.) If you’re gay or lesbian or bi or trans and you’ve ever read about a kid like Billy Lucas and thought, “Fuck, I wish I could’ve told him that it gets better,” this is your chance. We can’t help Billy, but there are lots of other Billys out there—other despairing LGBT kids who are being bullied and harassed, kids who don’t think they have a future—and we can help them.

They need to know that it gets better. Submit a video. Give them hope.

mail@savagelove.net

So if you have a message you want to get through to our young people to give them hope for getting through their school experience, get a YouTube account and submit your video! -MsQueer

©2010 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved. (Note: Quoted material from other authors and websites remains the property of the original authors. )

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Washington State House and Senate UNANIMOUSLY Pass Anti-Bullying Bill
March 15, 2010

Anti-bullying legislation passed the Washington State House (97-0) and Senate (48-0) last week that includes protections for LGBTQ Youth in public schools. Governor Christine Gregoire has already vowed to sign the bill as soon as it crosses her desk.

This legislation will create state-wide policies regarding bullying and harassment which will be required to be published online, as well as a staff position in every school responsible for handling all complaints of bullying and harassment.

Josh Friedes, advocacy director of Equal Rights Washington said in a statement,  “Today let us celebrate the leadership of Representative Marko Liias who championed this legislation, the commitment of the legislature to ensuring that every student enjoys a safe learning environment and the ongoing work of the Safe Schools Coalition.”

See “Celebrate a Victory Against Bullying” published by Equal Rights Washington:

Celebrate a Victory Against Bullying

Let’s hope the United States Congress follows suit….

On January 27th of this year,  Colorado Democrat and Co-Chair of the House LGBT Equality Caucus Jared Polis, who is an openly Gay Congressmen, introduced H. R. 4530, the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2010.  There were 60 co-sponsors of the bill.

The following quote from Congressman Polis appears on his website:

“Every day innocent students fall victim to relentless harassment and discrimination from teachers, staff, and fellow students based on their sexual orientation,” said Polis.  “These actions not only hurt our students and our schools but, left unchecked, can also lead to life-threatening violence.  Like Title VI for minorities in the 60s and Title IX for women in the 70s, my legislation puts LGBT students on an equal footing with their peers, so they can attend school and get a quality education, free from fear.”

Polis, also a member of the House Education and Labor Committee,  is a former chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education and has founded and served as the superintendent of charter schools serving at-risk student populations.  He further states,

“Hatred has no place in the classroom. Every student has the right to an education free from harassment and violence.  This bill will protect the individual freedoms of our students and enshrine the values of equality and opportunity in our classrooms.”

see:  Congressman Jared Poliswebsite

also:   1-27_SNDA_Fact_Sheet and 1-27_SNDA_Bill_Text

To help this bill, contact your Congressmen and women and let them know it’s time to provide a safe learning environment for our youth, free from harassment, bullying and fear.

I look forward to reporting its passage. -MsQueer


Additional resources for this story:  Julie Bolcer, The Advocate, March 8, 2010, and Ruth Schneider, 365Gay.com, March 9, 2010.

©2010 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved.

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Help Stop Media Bashing of Trans- and Gender Non-Conforming Children
June 10, 2009

Visit this site to take action.

We can make a few bullies pay for the deaths of so many.

http://openletterstokrxq.wordpress.com/

Families of Gender Non-Conforming Children Ask For Your Help

Visit this site to take action. We can make a few bullies pay for the deaths of so many.

http://openletterstokrxq.wordpress.com/

Families of Gender Non-Conforming Children Ask For Your Help

Many newspapers have reported on the recent program on KRXQ in Sacremento which concerned transgender and gender-non-conforming children. An excerpt from the Huffington Post article by Michael Rowe summarizes the statements of the radio disk jockeys, Rob Williams and Arnie State.

Even by the flexible moral, ethical, and professional standards of American talk radio, the May 28th segment of KRXQ 98.5 FM Sacramento’s Rob, Arnie, & Dawn in the Morning radio talk show makes for a sickening half-hour of ugliness and cruelty. For once, the focus was not LGBT adults, but minors. The hosts, Rob Williams and Arnie States, devoted the segment in question to a vicious diatribe against transgender children, some as young as five, focusing in particular on the case of one Omaha family raising a gender dysphoric child, and their decision to support her transition from male to female.

Williams and States took turns referring to gender dysphoric children as “idiots” and “freaks,” who were just out “for attention” and had “a mental disorder that just needs to somehow be gotten out of them,” either by verbal abuse on the part of the parents, or even shock therapy.

“Allowing transgenders to exist, pretty soon it becomes normal to fall in love with the animals,” they said.

As parents with gender non-conforming and transgender kids, we have come a long way in our understanding of this issue. Supportive parents come from all walks of life, all parts of the country, all religious traditions, all social classes. Some of us identify as conservatives, some liberal; some are hetero / gender normative themselves, some are not. Our kids come from traditional families and non-traditional families. Our kids most often (but not always) have gender normative siblings (or are only children).

Only we really know who these kids are, and who they have to be. We brought them into the world. Now we’re trying to make the world a safer place for them. None of the choices we make in raising our kids are made lightly. We know the dangers our kids face. But we also know the world is changing. And we have to be a part of that change.

“I have every right to call you a freak and judge you on that.” One of these men said. We ask that before anyone’s judgement is final, they listen to us, to the families, to the children, to the experts. Autistic kids were once thought of as freaks. As were Disabled kids. Cleft lip kids. Mixed race kids. Hyperactive kids. These kids are understood and appreciated. Someday soon, so will our kids.

Read our stories before you share any opinion based on incomplete knowledge, or on your own parenting experiences with gender normative children. These kids are different. They’re not freaks or idiots. They can change hearts and minds. They are brave, and strong, but  they cannot survive without support and understanding. They lead lives worth living, worth defending.

We love our kids. We will not let them be humiliated, denigrated, harassed or bullied without a fight.

If you’re with us, do something. Contact a sponsor on the naughty list or the nice list. Praise the nice; spank the naughty. Contact the FCC or KRXQ. Support TYFA. You can help save a kid’s life.

Thank you Paul for posting this comment originally at https://msqueer.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/annual-holiday-gala-fundraiser-for-the-trevor-project/#comments

MsQueer

©2009 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved.

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Another 11-year old Commits Suicide over Bullying
April 23, 2009

A second elementary school youth hanged himself last week after enduring anti-gay harassment and bullying at his school in Atlanta, Georgia. As in the case of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, Jaheem Herrera did not identify himself as “Gay.” But his classmates did.

I know I’ve used the phrase “epidemic proportions” here before, but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!

These comments are from GLSEN on YouTube along with some videos shown below:

“Almost 90% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students report being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation. LGBT teens experience homophobic remarks and harassment throughout the school day, creating an atmosphere where they feel disrespected, unwanted and unsafe. Homophobic remarks such as thats so gay are the most commonly heard; these slurs are often unintentional and a common part of teens vernacular. Most do not recognize the consequences, but the casual use of this language often carries over into more overt harassment.

“This campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in Americas schools. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults, including school personnel and parents; their support of this message is crucial to the success of efforts to change behavior.”

I’ve got my own plan as to how to counter-act this rising trend in our country’s public and private schools:

Find as many news sites and blogs that are covering this and related stories. TAKE TIME TO MAKE A COMMENT if available. Make sure you check the ability to receive email notification of responses.

Don’t just render an opinion – no matter how passionate it might be – offer web addresses of organizations working to educate and combat this insanity.

The more dialog we initiate, the more we will come together with others who share our concern. THIS IS NOT A GAY ISSUE. This is a SAFE SCHOOLS issue!  It affects all of us. OUR CHILDREN MUST HAVE A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s additional news coverage of this repeat tragedy:

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2009/04/21/boy_suicide_bullying_decatur.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab

 

http://current.com/items/89987540_anti-gay-bullying-blamed-for-another-pre-teen-suicide.htm

 

Some websites that you can refer others to (include these in your comments and/or emails to others, please:

 

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, www.glsen.org

 

Think B 4 You Speak, www.thinkB4youspeak.com

 

The Trevor Project, www.thetrevorproject.org

 

Here’s three great PSA’s from GLSEN and the AdCouncil about “That’s So Gay”  (include the url’s in your comments) – [NOTE: Videos propety of GLSEN. No Copyright infringement intended]

url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWS0GVOQPs0

 

url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C277qAKpUaQ

 

url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEpBYKOs3ys

 

 

DON’T STOP THERE….Contact your local School Board to find out if they have an anti-bullying policy in place.

 

Write an editorial in your local paper…AND SEND IT!

 

 Here’s a statement issued by The Trevor Projects Exec Director, Charles Robbins:

“Everyone at The Trevor Project is deeply saddened to learn about the death of Jaheem Herrera last week in DeKalb County, Georgia. Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with his family and friends during this difficult time.

“Tragically, Jaheem is now the second young person to complete suicide as the result of anti-gay bullying at school in just over two weeks. Although Jaheem did not identify as gay, anti-gay slander was the epithet of choice by his classmates and peers. Defamatory language continues to erode the self-esteem of sexual orientation and gender identity, and its consequences can be fatal as this incident so clearly demonstrates. It is time for both bullying and suicide to be addressed as the public health crises that they are. We are working closely with our colleagues at GLSEN and other national organizations to bring increased visibility and focus to this critical issue.

“The Trevor Project remains committed to supporting public policy and government initiatives that will address suicide prevention programs in every classroom across America. We will also advocate for programs that teach young people to respect one another and learn about the impact of their words and behaviors in the hope of preventing another tragic loss of life. 

“To learn more about suicide prevention, warning signs and resources, please visit The Trevor Project’s Suicide Resources (http://thetrevorproject.org/info.aspx)”

Don’t just shake your head and say, “what a waste.”  MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!! 

 

 NOTE: Videos are sole property of GLSEN and The Ad Council.  The Trevor Project Press Release is sole property of The Trevor Project. GLSEN videos descriptions sole preperty of GLSEN and YouTube. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.

©2009 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved.

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Honor Day of Silence to Stop Bullying in Schools
April 11, 2009

April 17th, 2009 is this year’s official “Day of Silence” – the 13th such annual commemoration.

THIS IS AN ACTION DAY. Supporters are asked to observe a 24-hour period of silence and carry cards with them explaining to others why they are choosing not to speak on this day. The template for this card,as well as Activist Handbook, web badges, buttons and other helpful information can be obtained in English and Spanish versions at www.dayofsilence.org.

Here is what the cards say:

“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the fi rst step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.” 

Another suggestion has been to wear red on that day, especially for those who may not be able to observe the silence at their jobs. Videos are also being requested to be posted on YouTube. Please see my response video below.

This is a critical issue facing this country. The statistics regarding LGBTQ youth facing bullying and physical harm at school are staggering. THIS IS NOT JUST AN LGBTQ ISSUE! We are talking about our public (and private) schools. We are talking about basic Human Rights.

Tell your friends, family and co-workers. More information can also be obtained at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, www.glsen.org.

Talk to as many people as you can about this so that we can find solutions that will lead to SAFE SCHOOLS FOR ALL YOUTH.

On April 17th, STOP talking…and carry a card that educates people around you as to your choice.

NOTE: This video was produced by Deb Adler, author of MsQueer. I DO own the rights to this vid (woo-hoo!)

PLEASE GO TO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9cSelrTJk8 and leave comments and ratings. Thanks! 🙂

©2009 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved. [NOTE: content of Day of Silence card belongs to www.dayof silence.org. No copyright infringement intended.]

 

 

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11-Year Old Commits Suicide Due to Bullying in School
April 11, 2009

[UPDATE: see also “Another 11-year old Commits Suicide over Bullying” post https://msqueer.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/another-11-year-old-commits-suicide-over-bullying/]

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year old boy attending the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts, committed suicide Monday because of ongoing taunting and bullying endured from his classmates. This boy did not identify himself as Gay, but was taunted by others nevertheless. School officials allegedly refused to do anything after repeated appeals from the boy’s mother.

This insanity has to stop. America has settled on a “safe” prejudice, that of being anti-gay. “That’s so Gay” is a common insult heard as frequently from adults in a bar or at the workplace as it is from children in school. That hundreds of children every day face ridicule, verbal and in many cases physical assault from their peers in what has come to epidemic proportions reveals a cancer that is eating away at the decency of our society. So long as we believe that there is a “safe prejudice” – NO ONE IS SAFE!

April 17th, which would have been Carl’s 12th birthday, is the 13th annual Day of Silence. On this day students across the country will observe a day of silence to emphasize the critical problem of bullying of LGBTQ youth and others in our country’s schools. Cards explaining their observation of silence are available from LGBT organizations locally. For those who cannot take part in the day-long act of silence, you are being asked to wear red to show your support. For more information go to: www.dayofsilence.org.

Here is the complete press release from GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network):

Apr 09, 2009
GLSEN Calls on Schools, Nation to Embrace Solutions to Bullying Problem
NEW YORK, April 9, 2009 – An 11-year-old Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hung himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother’s weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year.
Carl, a junior at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on April 17, the same day hundreds of thousands of students will participate in the 13th annual National Day of Silence by taking some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying and harassment at school. The other three known cases of suicide among middle-school students took place in Chatham, Evanston and Chicago, Ill., in the month of February.
“Our hearts go out to Carl’s mother, Sirdeaner L. Walker, and other members of Carl’s family, as well as to the community suffering from this loss,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “As we mourn yet another tragedy involving bullying at school, we must heed Ms. Walker’s urgent call for real, systemic, effective responses to the endemic problem of bullying and harassment. Especially in this time of societal crisis, adults in schools must be alert to the heightened pressure children face, and take action to create safe learning environments for the students in their care. In order to do that effectively, as this case so tragically illustrates, schools must deal head-on with anti-gay language and behavior.”

 

Two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, (http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/library/record/1859.html) a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. The top reason was physical appearance.

 

 

 

“As was the case with Carl, you do not have to identify as gay to be attacked with anti-LGBT language,” Byard said. “From their earliest years on the school playground, students learn to use anti-LGBT language as the ultimate weapon to degrade their peers. In many cases, schools and teachers either ignore the behavior or don’t know how to intervene.”

Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey (http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/library/record/2340.html ) of more than 6,000 LGBT students.

In most cases, the harassment is unreported. Nearly two-thirds of LGBT students (60.8%) who experience harassment or assault never reported the incident to the school. The most common reason given was that they didn’t believe anything would be done to address the situation. Of those who did report the incident, nearly a third (31.1%) said the school staff did nothing in response. While LGBT youth face extreme victimization, bullying in general is also a widespread problem. More than a third of middle and high school students (37%) said that bullying, name-calling or harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem at their school, according to From Teasing to Torment. Bullying is even more severe in middle school. Two-thirds of middle school students (65%) reported being assaulted or harassed in the previous year and only 41% said they felt very safe at school.

Carl’s suicide comes about a year after eighth-grader Lawrence King was shot and killed by a fellow student in a California classroom, allegedly because he was gay.

GLSEN recommends four simple approaches (http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/library/record/2263.html) schools can take to begin addressing bullying now.

Said Walker in the Springfield Republican: “If anything can come of this, it’s that another child doesn’t have to suffer like this and there can be some justice for some other child. I don’t want any other parent to go through this.”

About GLSEN
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit http://www.glsen.org.

 

A resolution was introduced into the House of Representatives April 2nd. GLSEN press release provides details:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK – Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and 33 cosponsors introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (H.Con.Res. 92) to recognize and support GLSEN’s 13th annual National Day of Silence on April 17.

“GLSEN would like to express our gratitude to Representatives Eliot Engel, Tammy Baldwin and the 33 cosponsors who are adding their voice to the hundreds of thousands of students who will take a vow of silence on April 17,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “A week after GLSEN’s lobby day in Washington, D.C., we are already seeing the impact young people can have on our democracy.”

Students will take some form of a vow of silence on April 17 to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from more than 7,500 middle and high schools participated in 2008.

“Sadly, violence and discrimination against LGBT youth is all-too-common in American schools,” said Rep. Engel, who along with Rep. Baldwin introduced a similar resolution last year. “It is a national disgrace that students feel threatened in school simply because of their sexual orientation. As a former public school teacher, I am proud to introduce this resolution. Americans need to know that thousands of children each day go to school deprived of a happy adolescence because of the insensitivity and cruelty shown by some fellow students, teachers, staff and parents.”

Added Rep. Baldwin: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students continue to face pervasive harassment and victimization in schools. As students use their silence to demand safe schools, we in Congress must use our voices to support them.”

Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.

Additionally 60.8% of LGBT students said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and nearly a third (32.7%) said they had missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.

“It is tragic to have any child suffer and what makes this worse is that it is completely preventable,” Bullying and harassment of LGBT students stems from ignorance and can only be repaired with education. By helping other students, teachers, staff and parents understand the plight of LGBT students, we can help these students live a happier childhood and enable them to earn their education free from fear,” Rep. Engel said.

 

Charles Robbins, Executive Director of The Trevor Project, the nation’s only 24-7 Helpline for LGBTQ Youth issued this statement online and to email subscribers (of which I am one):

April 9, 2009 

 

 

 

In light of the tragic suicide of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover in Springfield, Massachusetts, which was prompted by anti-gay bullying in his school, The Trevor Project has released the following statement from Charles Robbins, executive director and CEO: 

“We are saddened to learn that another valuable young life was lost this week as the result of a school environment that was not safe, accepting and inclusive of all students. We extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover during this difficult time. This unfortunate incident serves as further testimony to the necessity for all schools to mandate suicide prevention education programs in order to help young people understand the harmful and potentially life-shattering effects of bullying, discrimination and harassment. The Trevor Project remains at the forefront of providing lifesaving guidance and vital resources to parents and educators, including our Lifeguard School Workshop Program and Trevor Survival Kit – both of which help educators constructively facilitate discussions with students about issues surrounding suicide, gender identity, sexual orientation and the impacts of language and behavior.” 

To learn more about suicide prevention, warning signs and resources, please visit The Trevor Project’s Suicide Resources Web page. 

To make a contribution to The Trevor Project in support of its lifesaving youth suicide prevention programs, please click here. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/donation.aspx

A young You-Tuber, KrisFrom1992,  posted this video and called for others to post video responses in support and solidarity. His plea is simple and impactful. I salute his courage in speaking out.

Another passionate plea came last year, following the murder of 15-year old Lawrence King from talk-show host Larry King.

carl-joseph-walker-hoover

Lawrence King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T LET THIS DAY GO BY UNMARKED.

FIND SOME WAY TO SUPPORT “DAY OF SILENCE 2009”

-MsQueer

©2009 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved. (NOTE: Content of GLSEN press releases remain the sole property of GLSEN and content of Trevor Project’s press releases remain the sole property of The Trevor Project. No copyright infringement intended.)

 

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10th Annual “National Coming Out Day” Celebrated October 11th
October 13, 2008

October 11th has been designated “National Coming Out Day” since its origination in 1988 by Jean O’Leary  and Dr. Rob Eichberg in celebration of the Second National March on Washington, D.C. for Lesbian and Gay Rights held one year earlier. On that day 500,000 people marched on the Capitol of the United States on behalf of Equal Rights  for Gays and Lesbians.

(SEE: NY TImes/AP article about Jean O’Leary)

Today HRC (Human Rights Campaign) manages the event in the U.S., but the October 11th date is also observed in a number of other countries around the globe, including Canada, Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands. The United Kingdom marked “National Coming Out Day” on October 12th

The Trevor Project, the nation’s only 24-7 Helpline for LGBT and Questioning Youth, published a “Should I Come Out? Quick Tips for Young People”

SEE: Should I Come Out?

Additional resources include: 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Glossary of Terms, published by GLAAD (Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)  

http://www.glaad.org/media/guide/glossary.php

Coming Out: A Guide for Youth and Their Allies, published by GLSEN (Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network)

http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/library/record/1290.html 

HRC Resource Guide to Coming Out, published by Human Rights Campaign

http://www.hrc.org/documents/resourceguide_co.pdf

HRC Coming Out as Transgender Guide, published by Human Rights Campaign

http://www.hrc.org/documents/2071_HRC_Coming_Out.pdf

Transgender Glossary of Terms, published by GLAAD

http://www.glaad.org/media/guide/transfocus.php

There are, of course, many more resources online and in your communities. You will find them when you search online for “National Coming Out Day.” 

It is pure joy for me to see these kinds of organized activities publicly supported by national and international humanitarian groups, reported by national news sources, and recognized by Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered Persons and Allies. We have come a long way from the time of my youth, the 1950’s. I celebrate our progress, and look forward to the day when we won’t need a proclamation of a “Coming Out Day” because to do so will be so mundane as to be almost inconsequential. I look forward to the day when we truly celebrate the diversity that exists within each of us an individuals, as community, and as the global community of Humankind.

-MsQueer

©2008 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved.


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Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Florida High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance
August 7, 2008

THIS ARTICLE IS REPRINTED DIRECTLY FROM THE GLSEN WEBSITE AT:

http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/2317.html

 

Federal Judge Rules that Florida High School Must Allow Gay-Straight Alliance

Media Contact
Daryl Presgraves
646-388-6577
dpresgraves@glsen.org

Jul 30, 2008

Decision Follows Judicial Precedent on GSA Cases, Rejects Claim of Sex-Based Club

NEW YORK, July 30, 2008 – In yet another judicial decision upholding the right of students to form and participate in Gay-Straight Alliances, a federal judge ruled Tuesday night that Okeechobee High School in Florida must allow a GSA the same access it allows other non-curricular clubs.

The ruling also stated that GSAs do not interfere with abstinence-only education and that schools must take into account the well being of non-heterosexual students.

“We applaud this decision rooted in judicial precedent for recognizing not just the legal right of students to form GSAs, but also that schools and students will benefit by having GSAs on campus,” said GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings. “While it is important to note the courage of the students who came forward to claim their legal right to work to make their school safer, the real victors are all the students at Okeechobee High School.”

Okeechobee High School had sought to mischaracterize the purpose of the GSA. Judge K. Michael Moore reaffirmed his earlier ruling that GSAs are not sex-based clubs, but clubs designed to foster tolerance on school campuses.

About 4,000 GSAs are currently registered with GLSEN, including 155 in Florida.

A 2007 GLSEN research brief on the benefits of GSAs found that students in schools with GSAs are less likely to hear homophobic remarks in school on a daily basis than students in schools without a GSA (57% compared to 75%).

The report’s major findings:

  • The presence of GSAs may help to make schools safer for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students by sending a message that biased language and harassment will not be tolerated.
  • Having a GSA may also make school more accessible to LGBT students by contributing to a more positive school environment.
  • GSAs may help LGBT students to identify supportive school staff, which has been shown to have a positive impact on their academic achievement and experiences in school.
  • Most students lack access to GSAs or other student clubs that provide support and address issues specific to LGBT students and their allies.

About GLSEN
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN’s educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs, research, public education or development initiatives, visit http://www.glsen.org.

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