Student Voice of Mental Health for College Students Award
January 20, 2009

Recently, in response to one of my posts about teen suicide and lgbtq teen suicides in this country and resources to help, I received a comment from someone who asked me to publicize a video competition that is coming to a conclusion soon, as well as the organization sponsoring it, The Jed Foundation.

Here are excerpts from the poster’s comments: “I’m writing from The Jed Foundation….We are presenting The Jerry Greenspan Student Voice of Mental Health Award for college students who have had mental health issues like the one’s you write about on your site and wanted for you to help spread the word.

“The award is for a video on their experiences with mental health issues and how they are working to raise awareness and encourage their peers on the issue. The award includes a $2,000 scholarship, a trip to NYC to our annual gala in June 2009, recognition through our site and events and possibly appearing on MTVU. The info is on our site (link below).

We are interested… in having folks write about the importance of doing work like this and show casing, if you will, this award we are presenting.

More information at http://jedfoundation.org/programs/student-voice-of-mental-health-award

NOTE: The Deadline for submitting a video to this project is FEBRUARY 13th!  You can download an application from their site address shown here.  Questions can be directed to studentaward@jedfoundation.org.

From their website, I share with you their Mission, as it appears on their About Us page:

Mission 

The Jed Foundation works nationally to reduce the rate of suicide and the prevalence of emotional distress among college and university students. To achieve this end, the organization collaborates with the public and leaders in higher education, mental health, and research to produce and advance initiatives that:

  • Decrease the stigma surrounding emotional disorders and increase help-seeking in the college student population  
  • Increase understanding of the warning signs of suicide and the symptoms of emotional disorders among college students 
  • Build awareness of the prevalence of suicide and emotional disorders among college students 
  • Strengthen campus mental health services, policies, and programs

You can also find the Jed Foundation, among other places on the net at http://www.youtube.com/thejedfoundation

There, you will find a number of videos on “You Are Not Alone – Fight the Stigma” which feature student sharings as well as educational information from professionals dealing with the issues of student mental health.

I have contacted the Jed Foundation and suggested they network with The Trevor Project, since I did not see any specific references to the LGBTQ population. I hope they follow suit.

Here’s one of  their videos:

[NOTE: ALL RIGHTS TO THIS VIDEO BELONG TO THE JED FOUNDATION.]

The Jed Foundation also has a “Half Of Us” Campaign underway that asks students, “How Are You A Friend?” More information about this can be found at http://jedfoundation.org/about/jed-news/how-are-you-a-friend. -MsQueer.

©2009 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved. [NOTE: All language from the Jed Foundation website is the property of The Jed Foundation. No copyright infringement intended.]

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YouTube Project-4-Awesome Vids Feature The Trevor Project
January 4, 2009

What better way to tell someone about why they should donate to the nation’s only 24-7 Helpline for LGBTQ Youth, The Trevor Project, than through the video-perspective of two young movie-makers who chose to highlight the non-profit for YouTube’s Project 4 Awesome 2008?

I personally cannot say enough about the work of  The Trevor Project and the urgent and overwhelming need to offer support to our LGBTQ youth, many of whom are bombarded by cruel verbal and physical assaults from classmates and family, not to mention the ignorance of society-at-large.

These two young men are articulate, passionate and focused. When I hear young peope speak about how stupid they think name-calling and prejudice against others really is, it gives me hope for the future of the human family. Witness for yourself:

For more information about this young Film-maker, see http://www.youtube.com/user/r0sewhip137

For more information about this film-maker, see http://www.youtube.com/user/tyleroakley

ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO THE ORIGINATORS OF THESE VIDEOS. I OWN NOTHING!

-MsQueer

The Attic is Philly’s Safe Haven for LGBTQ Youth
January 2, 2009

I love it when you, the readers, take time to share resources such as this one, which I discovered through the sharing of  “the hostess” in response to my “Study Shows Tolerance Lowers Gay Teen Suicide Rate” post recently. (That’s what I want this blog to be all about! So spread the word and contact me with your resources!)

The Attic Youth Center, at  South 16th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102  offers safe space and programs for empowering LGBTQ Youth.

It’s Mission, as stated on the website:  The Attic Youth Center creates opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (l/g/b/t/q) youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community, and promotes the acceptance of l/g/b/t/q youth in society.

It’s Vision: The Attic’s vision is one of inclusion where all individuals are valued and respected — a community where all young people have access to the resources they need to grow into healthy, independent, productive community members. The Attic’s mission and vision are supported by our multifaceted programmatic approach.

♥ PHONE: (215) 545-4331 ♥ EMAIL: info@atticyouthcenter.org   ♥

♥ WEBSITE: http://www.atticyouthcenter.org/index.php ♥

The Attic has published a list of resources for LGBTQ Youth for the Philadelphia area, other cities in Pennsylvania, as well as websites for national organizations and services.   See: www.atticyouthcenter.org/resources/General_Resource_List.pdf

In addition, while researching The Attic, I found an articulate article written by Sharon Cole regarding the decision by the Philadelphia School District to include Gay and Lesbian History Month in its 2006-2007 Academic Calendar.

Here is an excerpt:

The decision did not go unchallenged, however. According to reports in The Philadelphia Inquirer, school district officials received a deluge of irate e-mails and were visited by a few incensed parents who threatened to pull their kids from Philly public schools. But the district stood firm in its final decision stating, “We have our policy that says the district is committed to foster knowledge and respect for all.”

 

Though elated about the district’s inclusion, Carrie Jacobs, executive director and a founding member of the Attic Youth Center, an organization offering support and a safe haven for LGBT youth in center city Philadelphia, said the blatant intolerance of diversity displayed in response to the new calendar, of which 200,000 were distributed, made it all too clear just how far we are from true acceptance of gays and how desperately LGBT-identified youth need our support.

 

“There were people at the school commission reform who were so against gay history being printed on the calendars that it got to the point where some of them called other adults in the room faggots,” said Jacobs. “I was shocked by incredibly mean spirited it all was.”

 

Legacy of Neglected Youth

Shouting the term “faggots” is a pure example of the kind of verbal abuse anti-gay individuals impose upon others to cause fear, Jacobs said. Only when kids are the recipients, that fear can cause long-lasting damage. She explained that the name-calling causes oppression, and when that is coupled with a lack of education and awareness surrounding sexual orientation, social and emotional development can be

stunted for LGBT youth.

To read the article in its entirety, click here:  www.ct.gov/dcf/lib/dcf/wmv/news/protecting_our_kids.pdf

-MsQueer

©2009 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All language from The Attic website is the property of The Attic. All Rights to “Protecting Our Kids” belongs to the author. )

 


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Study Shows Tolerance Lowers Gay Teen Suicide Rate
January 1, 2009

Really? 🙂

And now for the real news…Accredited professionals are publishing credible data relevant to gay teens and youth and how to help them survive the hormone years – as if they aren’t confusing enough! – to make it to adulthood as an LGBT person. BRAVO!

So here’s the scoop, courtesy of an excellent story from NPR: 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98782569&ft=1&f=1001  

 

Credit the Research to Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Adolescent Health Initiatives and her team at the Cesar Chavez Institute at San Fransisco State University.  Well done, Ms. Ryan.  

 

We are coming a long way. For mainstream medical professions and the media to acknowledge the Gay Youth population and its particulars is a huge step out of the dark ages. Of course the reactionaries are protesting. Let them protest. What are they really objecting to…a message of compassion? That’s the basis of tolerance, not “putting up with” but ACCEPTANCE and RESPECT.  

 

Christians beware, lest you protest the message from the one you call Jesus, The Christ.  -MsQueer

 

©2008 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved. (NOTE: NPR OWNS ALL RIGHTS to its published story.) 

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For Parents of Gay Teens
December 16, 2008

So, what do you say when your child announces to you that she or he is “gay?” If you’re looking for the ultimate quintessential answer here out of desperation, you can quit reading now. There is no set “one line” or “approved script” of how to handle delicate interpersonal communications with loved ones – especially the “coming out” issue.

Suggestion: DON’T GO CRAZY. If you feel yourself launching into a judgement, take a moment to ask yourself, “Who’s that talking?”  Is what you may be about to spew all over your own flesh and blood something that you really subscribe to? Or might you be about to premanently render your relationship to your daughter or son altered irrevocably as the result of somebody else’s programs???????

What I mean here is that we all tend to act and react through “filters” – attitudes, opinions and automatic behaviors we have acquired throughout our lives, by observation, upbringing and conditioning (family, community, social-cultural influences, etc.) In other words, we as humans tend to interact with our world and each other as the sum total of the parts that we have taken on from other people in our lives  – almost like “valences” that may not necessarily be the real me or the real you.

But given a particular stimulus, BAM – before we can even think through the situation in front of us – up comes one of those “ghosts” – from somebody else’s past – (i.e. parents, clergy, teachers, authority figures) – like one of those annoying pop-ups that invade your computer screen and you really don’t want it, and don’t quite know how to get rid of it.

This is not to make any of those influence wrong. All those people that are part of our personal make-up are not “bad” – they just are not really us. They are “impressions” we hold onto because we don’t know how to release them without judgement and therefore guilt.

Letting go of Aunt Mary’s homophobia doesn’t make Aunt Mary a bad person – it just means she was expressing through her filters and influences in her life that she acquired…AND THE BEAT GOES ON! Making a choice to get free of that cycle and start a new one is choosing personal freedom and greater sanity.

In the case of being confronted with your teen’s “Coming out” – it can mean the difference between tragedy or triumph.

I found this article recently and wanted to share it with you:  Understanding Your Gay Teen,  A Primer for Parents by Katy Abel (see link below).

If you are a parent of a teen or any age daughter or son who has gone through the painful and fearful exercise of “coming out” to you, I implore you to treat this as a HUGE trust. Your child is looking for acceptance, not necessarily approval. You don’t have to understand the “gay experience” to love your child. Your child wants to know that no matter what, you still love them.

Think about it. They’re risking everything to be honest and open with you. They know from other people’s experiences that “honesty is the best policy” hasn’t always led to a “happy ending.”

Here’s some food for thought, and maybe insight into some of my “filters:” My father came from an Orthodox Jewish family. He fell in love with a woman 16 years his senior who was Lutheran. His family rejected her – and him. In fact, when it became clear that he was going to stand by his wife and not leave her as they had tried to convince him to do, they did the traditional week-long mourning period that follows burial of the dead.

For years there was no communication. When I was about 10 years old, a call came saying that his mother was dying of cancer and wanted to see my father and his family. So we went. It was very awkward, and very painful for my father. In the ensuing years, after his mother’s death, when he went to see his father there was a point in the visit where a silence would set in like a deep chasm that could not be bridged.

When my father died, he asked me not to inform his family until after he was buried. He carried hatred of his sister to his grave. And his pain. All I can say is, it is such a waste. There is nothing that should be more important than blood family – no religion, no philosophy, no politics, NOTHING.

Okay, end of soapbox. But you get the point. Looking back on the American Civil War we can all say “what a waste. Families torn apart, fathers and sons killing each other,  siblings against siblings…” So why would it make sense for any other issue? Let’s step away from the question at hand just far enough to realize that “from a distance” – as the song goes – we all are the same, and we all share far more in common than is justifiable in preserving the illusion of separation and “difference.”

See: Understanding Your Gay Teen, A Primer for Parents by Katy Abel

Additional resources are available through:

 PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) at: www.pflag.org

 Resources for Parents when talking to teens about homosexuality and gay teens, including:

3 Simple Things Parents of Straight Teens Can Do About Homosexuality
Parents of straight teens can do a lot to teach tolerance of gay teens.

My Teen Came Out to Me and I Blew It
Article for parents of gay teens who don’t feel that they have handled it well.

What should I say if my teen tells me he/she is gay, lesbian or bisexual?
Simple FAQ for parents of teens, what to say if your teen tells you he/she is gay lesbian or bisexual.

How Do I Accept My Gay Teen?
Don’t let yourself get confused between ‘accepting your teen’ and ‘accepting that your teen has a different sexual orientation’. This article will help.

Gayteens Resources
Support, information, features and chat rooms for young people, their families and those unsure of their sexuality.

http://parentingteens.about.com/od/gayteens/

Additional topics and authoritative compassionate articles are at this webpage for your assistance.

ADDENDUM: “For Parents of Gay/Lesbian Teens” gives an insightful view of what it feels like to be a parent dealing with discovering their teen’s gay identity.

See: http://www.teenhealthcentre.com/?q=node/53

better-gay-than-grumpy1

May your Christmas, Hannakah, Kwanza and other Holiday Celebrations

be filled with Love and Joy this year!

And may we all be able to celebrate each other as we are:

One with the All That IS.

🙂 MsQueer

©2008 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved.

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Trevor Project Accredited by American Society of Suicidology
December 11, 2008

The Trevor Project has been formally recognized as the only accredited crisis and suicide prevention program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth .

Congratulations to The Trevor Project!  🙂 For more information go to www.thetrevorproject.org

From the Press Release issued by The Trevor Project: 
 LOS ANGELES (Nov. 14, 2008)  
 The Trevor Project, the non-profit organization that operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, today announced that it is the only crisis and suicide prevention service delivery program specifically serving the LGBTQ community to be officially accredited by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS).  

This month, The Trevor Project was accredited by AAS, thus recognizing it as an exemplary crisis and suicide prevention program performing according to nationally recognized standards. In order to achieve accreditation, The Trevor Project was required to undergo a rigorous evaluation process, focusing on seven areas of performance: Administration and Organizational Structure, Training Program, General Service Delivery System, Services in Life-threatening Crises, Ethical Standards and Practice, Community Integration and Program Evaluation.

“Receiving accreditation from AAS affirms that, clinically, our crisis and suicide prevention services for young people are top-tier, and positions us as a model of program excellence for other crisis centers,” said Charles Robbins, executive director and CEO, The Trevor Project. “As the only accredited, LGBTQ-specific crisis and suicide prevention helpline, we know our services are vital and we will remain committed to expanding our programs and national outreach.”

This year has been one of tremendous growth for The Trevor Project. Call volume on The Trevor Helpline has increased more than 300% in the last year (2007 to 2008). Last month, The Trevor Project launched TrevorSpace.org, an online, social networking community for LGBTQ youth and their friends and allies. In September, The Trevor Project expanded The Trevor School Workshop Program in New York and Los Angeles, which uses a structured curriculum in schools to address topics around sexuality, gender identity, the impacts of language and behavior and what it means for young people to feel different. In addition, The Trevor Project unveiled a new social marketing campaign in September, to coincide with National Suicide Prevention Week, which is annually sponsored by AAS.  

The Trevor Project received accreditation from AAS just one month prior to its largest, annual fundraiser, Cracked Xmas, which is set for Sunday, Dec. 7 at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. The event is an evening of irreverent comedy, musical performances and awards to benefit The Trevor Project’s lifesaving programs, including the now-accredited helpline.

Suicide is one of the top three killers of young people, and LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. The Trevor Helpline receives more than 18,000 calls from young people in crisis each year. Volunteer counselors undergo more than 40 hours of training, learning to listen and understand without judgment.

Call volume on The Trevor Helpline typically increases during the winter holiday season, as many LGBTQ youth face additional challenges with family rejection and feelings of isolation and depression during the holidays. Young callers often call back after speaking with counselors on The Trevor Helpline to thank them. “I just want to thank you guys for having such an amazing helpline,” said one such 18-year-old caller. “I especially want to thank the counselor who talked to me, because his words truly saved my life.”  

About The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization that operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. The Trevor Helpline, 866-4-U-TREVOR, is a free and confidential service that offers hope through its trained counselors. The Trevor Project also provides lifesaving guidance and vital resources to parents and educators in order to foster safe, accepting and inclusive environments for all youth, at home and at school. The organization was founded by three filmmakers whose film, “Trevor,” about a gay teenager who attempts suicide, received the 1994 Academy Award® for Best Short Film (Live Action). For more information please visit TheTrevorProject.org.  

 

 

-MsQueer©2008 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved. (NOTE: Press Release content is the property of The Trevor Project.)

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World Suicide Prevention Day and The Trevor Project
September 10, 2008

Today, September 10, 2008, has been proclaimed “Trevor Project Day” in the state of New York, to coincide with “World Suicide Prevention Day” and “National Suicide Prevention Week.”  I share this email which I receive from The Trevor Project. (If you wish to receive updates on their programs, you can request that at www.thetrevorproject.org). -MsQueer

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE EMAIL: trevor-day-announcement

Here’s a copy of the accompanying press release (reformatted to please the blog editor!):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Jacque Wing / The Trevor Project

310-271-8845, ext. 226

Jacqueline.Wing@TheTrevorProject.org

 

MEDIA ALERT

 

SEPT. 10 PROCLAIMED “THE TREVOR PROJECT DAY” IN NEW YORK

The Trevor Project Day to coincide with National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day

 

WHAT:

 

New York Gov. David Paterson will proclaim Sept. 10, 2008 as The Trevor Project Day in the state of New York. The Trevor Project operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The Trevor Project Day strategically occurs during National Suicide Prevention Week, sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology. The day coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day, sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

 

In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week, World Suicide Prevention Day and The Trevor Project Day, The Trevor Project will launch and participate in a variety of initiatives to build awareness regarding suicide, specifically among LGBTQ youth. These include:

 

 

  • Launch of The Trevor Project School Workshop Program, which will use a structured curriculum in schools to address topics around sexuality, gender identity, the impacts of language and behavior, and what it means for young people to feel different.

 

  • Launch of an all-new “fan page” on Facebook.com promoting The Trevor Project, its mission and its services to members nationwide.

 

  • Volunteer counselors from The Trevor Helpline as well as staff members from The Trevor Project will participate in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk on Sat., Sept. 13 in Santa Monica, Calif., to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

WHEN:

 

National Suicide Prevention Week: Sept. 7 through 13, 2008

The Trevor Project Day: Sept. 10, 2008

World Suicide Prevention Day: Sept. 10, 2008

 

WHY:            

           

Suicide is one of the top three causes of death among young people (15 to 24-year-olds). Only accidents and homicides occur more frequently as causes of death among young people.

 

LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

 

LGBTQ youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

 

# # #

 

 


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Annual Holiday Gala Fundraiser for The Trevor Project
August 13, 2008

“The Trevor Project is a nonprofit organization established to promote the acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, and to aid in suicide prevention among that group.”

The Trevor Project Cracked Xmas 11
The Trevor Project Cracked Xmas 11

 

 Some highlights from Cracked Xmas 10, The Trevor Project’s annual December gala event, honoring Ellen Degeneres and Clear Channel Radio Los Angeles.

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A Word About Gay Teen Suicide and Someone Who Can Help…..
February 21, 2008

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst [all] young people 15 to 24 years of age.  It is the sixth leading cause of death amongst [all] children 5 to 14 years old.  According to the Center for Disease Control/Massachusetts Department of Education Youth Risk Behavior Survey (1999),  33% of gay youth will attempt suicide.  In fact, gay teen suicide attempts are four times that of heterosexual youth.” 

(sources: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/emotios/behavior/suicide.html, http://privateschool.about.com/cs/students/a/teensuicide.htmTeenSuicide, http://gaylife.about.com/od/gayteens/a/gaysuicide.htm

Teenage years are crazy and emotionally charged enough with hormones racing through the bloodstream, urges coming over you like there’s no tomorrow, everyone’s expectations setting up seemingly impossible standards of questionable import , etc….add to that mix the confusion of questioning one’s sexual orientation and you have a recipe for disaster!

I can remember having feelings and attractions for my girl friends as early as elementary school. We’re talking the mid to late 1950’s here, folks — there were no campy TV shows like Queer as Folk or The L Word; there were no Ellen Degeneres’ or Rosie O’Donnell’s, or any of the countless other performers and celebrities who can serve as positive role models for youth today.

I grew up afraid of my feelings – and terrified to share what I was feeling and thinking for fear that if I did, I might be taken away from my parents (or sent away) and locked up somewhere forever! I grew up afraid of myself. I didn’t understand, and there was no place, no one, to go with my questions. Such was the pain, the shame.  In some ways, even with the visibility of “out” public personalities today, the pain and confusion can still be very real. And the stigma. Face it, you can walk by any playground in America and what is the favorite insult?  “Oh, he’s so gay” “She’s queer.”  (Elevate the playground to the workplace breakroom and the atmosphere can seem identical).

Gay kids get bullied, harassed and beaten routinely. Even if a kid is suspected of being gay .. you know, because of all those tell tale signs that mark a “queer” — they’re likely to come under fire. Peer insults and intent to hurt can be relentless. Confusion? If that’s all they’re feeling, they’re lucky. More often it leads to alienation and self-contempt. Nobody deserves to grow up under that kind of stigma.

Fortunately there is a 24/7 helpline that kids can call where they will receive confidential counseling from peers who understand.  This is the only such national helpline specifically to help gay and questioning youth. -MsQueer

Call 1-866-488-7386  (1-866-4-U-TREVOR)

Learn more about The Trevor Project:Trevor Project Queer As Folk PSA 
The TREVOR Trailer 
Here! Focus – The Trevor Project 
Ellen Degeneres Honored by The Trevor Projec t 


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