Study shows over half of UK gay teens bullied at school |

Despite improvement in last five years, most lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils still face homophobic bullying at school and more likely to self harm

 More than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers in the UK are bullied at school, a study published today (3July) reveals.

According to The School Report by gay rights organization Stonewall, 55% of British youngsters aged between 11 and 18 experience homophobic bullying at school.

While 95% say they anti-gay words such as ‘poof’ or ‘lezza used and 99% claim to hear the phrases ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’, The Guardian reported.

Most shocking is that 56% of those surveyed in the survey of more than 1,600 gay pupils have tried to deliberately harm themselves, including cutting and burning themselves.

Despite the figures being down on the last report in 2007, which saw 65% of gay teens admitting to being victims of homophobic bullying, there has been little improvement in occurances of anti-gay language.

‘I think some teachers – particularly those who were trained a while ago – think, mistakenly, that it is unlawful to teach children about homosexuality. Others dismiss homophobic bullying as banter,’ said Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill.

‘When a child is bullied for having ginger hair or being black, at least parents or carers can provide support at home, but many young people who suffer homophobic bullying don’t have that. Many feel so isolated they withdraw from education.’

– MATTHEW JENKIN, Gay Star News.

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Grieving parents: Gay teens walk a painful, lonely path

Tim and Tracy Rodemeyer, of suburban Buffalo: After the death of their son Jamey, seeking to raise awareness of the trials and solitude of gay teens or youths confused about their orientation.

In the days after the death of Jamey Rodemeyer, his parents discovered he’d kept a blog they hadn’t known about. Jamey’s Internet entries described the uncertainty of a 14-year-old coming to terms with the realization that he was gay, and the fear that it meant a lifetime of isolation.

One entry especially haunts Tim and Tracy Rodemeyer, who drove Sunday from their Erie County home to All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Syracuse, where they took part in a prayer service on bullying. They said Jamey, last September, had just started his freshman year at Williamsville North High School in suburban Buffalo. In a post on his blog, he spoke of attending a meeting of gay, lesbian and transgender students.

He didn’t mention the meeting to his parents. Instead, he told them he went to drama club.

The pain represented by that entry — the idea that Jamey thought he might be rejected by his own family — explains why Tim and Tracy so willingly speak out about their loss. At 13, Jamey revealed to Tracy that he might be gay. Tracy said she and her husband were hardly experts about raising a gay child, but she offered a gut reaction: She told Jamey she would love him, whatever path he took.

In September, nine school days into his freshman year, Jamey hung himself in their backyard.

“It’s something I’ve got to live with the for rest of my life, just wondering how long he’d had this planned,” Tracy said. “There are certain days we don’t want to talk about this anymore, and we sit back and say, ‘We just want our son back.’ But we firmly believe he was put here to get a message out.”

What they know is that their son had no choice in who he was. As a young child, they said, he preferred the company and games of little girls. Even in grade school, that led to mocking from other boys, taunts that intensified as Jamey grew older.

Twenty or 30 years ago, Tracy said, gay children could at least find safety away from school. In the age of Internet, electronic insults followed Jamey home. Since his death, Tracy and Tim have grown to realize, day by day, how unbearable his ordeal must have become.

“People don’t wake up one day and say, ‘I’m gay,'” Tracy said Sunday, from an altar adorned with rainbow-colored cloth and candles at All Saints. “My son, on his 14th birthday, didn’t say, ‘I want to get picked on, I can’t wait to get pushed around, so I’m going to tell people I’m gay.'”

As they went through Jamey’s room in the days after his death, his parents were surprised by what they found: Their son had written a passionate essay supporting gay marriage. He created T-shirts with slogans supporting gay rights and tolerance.

“Unfortunately,” Tracy said, “he had a harder time believing it for himself.”

The talk Sunday by the Rodemeyers, followed by a question and answer session, was part of an ongoing theme of acceptance at All Saints. Vince Sgambati, a parishioner, offered statistics from New York City’s Ali Forney Center, an organization dedicated to homeless gay youths. Nationally, Sgambati said, as many as 240,000 gay teens may be living on the streets because their parents turned away. In New York, many homeless gay youths survive by becoming prostitutes; up to 20 percent, Sgambati said, may be infected with HIV.

He recommended that gay youths, or parents seeking help and guidance, call the Q Center, an arm of AIDS Community Resources in Syracuse. The Rev. Fred Daley, pastor of All Saints and a celibate gay man, described that kind of institutional support as another step in a Christian imperative:

“It’s an opportunity to recognize that a significant population among us is hurting, that it has been hurting for a long time, and it’s a scandal that so many churches have been quiet.”

During a conversation between the Rodemeyers and the audience, Bill Tenity, a retired middle school teacher from Auburn, reassured the couple about Jamey’s reluctance to speak openly about his orientation. That’s typical, Tenity said; gay men and women often go through life with a deep fear of rejection. He recalled how he declined to reveal he was gay when he was teaching, afraid the truth might put his job at risk.

Such hesitation continues among many teachers, Tenity said, which eliminates potential role models for gay students and reinforces the sense of isolation among teens.

The Rodemeyers received a standing ovation as they stepped down from the altar. In the end, you got the sense their mission was profoundly simple: The next time any of us feel the urge to make a cruel judgment or joke, maybe we’ll pause for just a second to think about their son.

– more at

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Fighting the Christian Right’s War Against Anti-Bullying Programs

The biggest bullies in the schoolyard may be certain Christian organizations on the right that expend a great deal of their time energy and fund-raising doing everything they can to make sure LGBT students don’t receive the protections of anti-bullying laws.

Their tactic is to encompass spreading information that many others see as outright lies, citing bogus statistics, and lobbying lawmakers in statehouses and the U.S. Capitol. They contend that anti-bullying legislation and programs single out gay students, according to experts EDGE interviewed.

So far, their strategy appears to be working, at least some of the time and in regions across the country.

While 49 states have anti-bullying laws on the books (Montana is the sole exception), only 14 and the District of Columbia specifically include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Wisconsin’s covers sexual orientation only.

Bullying has serious consequences for LGBT youth, who commit more than 30 percent of all reported teen suicides each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to bullying, causes of such suicides include lack of acceptance, abandonment and hate crimes. Christian groups and others then use such statistics to “prove” the harmfulness of the “gay lifestyle.”

-more at Edge Boston

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All schools must allow ‘gay-straight alliances’ under new anti-bullying bill

All schools — including those in the Catholic system — won’t be able to stop students from calling anti-homophobia clubs “ gay-straight alliances” if dramatic changes to a proposed anti-bullying law are passed.

The change of heart on the minority Liberal government’s Accepting Schools Act, which gave schools a veto on names for any student club, was announced Friday by Education Minister Laurel Broten at a student conference.

“Let’s remember these are student clubs and student voices matter in the naming of a student club,” Broten told reporters.

– full report at Toronto Star

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