A call for support of anti-bullying efforts and the The Safe Schools Improvement Act.
Last Sunday a 30 year old gay man was lured into a house in the Bronx where he thought he would be attending a party. Instead, he was tortured and sodomized by a group of teenagers and young adults. He was the third person tortured by the group for being gay that same weekend. The other two victims were just 17. Also last week, Tyler Clementi, a teenager and accomplished violinist who was just starting his freshman year at Rutgers University committed suicide after he was “outed” by his roommate who secretly video taped him having an encounter with another boy and streamed the video on the internet to other students. Earlier last month Billy Lucas hanged himself after being bullied because his classmates thought he was gay. Likewise, thirteen-year- old Asher Brown shot himself in the head and died after experiencing severe bullying by classmates in 2 different schools. Asher had recently told his parents that he was gay. Within days Seth Walsh, another 13 year old gay teen who had been bullied at his school killed himself. And the cases seem never ending. Eric Mohah, just 17, shot himself to death after being bullied relentlessly and called “homo” and “gay” and “fag”. He was 1 of 4 teens who had been bullied to death at the same Ohio school. The others included 16 year old Sladjana Vidovic, 16 year old Jennifer Eyring, and 16 year old Meredith Rezak, who was tormented by her peers after coming out as gay. In light of these tragedies, how could anyone oppose efforts to keep these kids from being bullied?
So, last Friday I stepped in unfamiliar territory when I posted on child-psych.org twitter account (@childpsychology) a call to our followers to tell the organization Focus on the Family to stop opposing anti-bullying programs at schools. I had been following the stories about Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization that has a strong anti-gay position and opposes Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-PA) anti-bullying legislation, as well as stories about other Christian organizations that also oppose efforts to specifically protect gay teens from being bullied. But, from the messages that arrived soon after my twitter post, I learned that some of my followers actually agreed with the position of these conservative organizations and were upset at my post. I spent time trying to understand their logic, reading the official position of these organizations, and reading the comments on many websites where people adamantly oppose such anti-bullying efforts. And as I sat thinking how to respond, I realized that it was nearly impossible to argue with those whose views are driven by fundamentalist religious convictions. Beliefs such as that “gays are impure,” that they are “worse than terrorists,” or that those trying to stop bullying at our schools have a secret homosexual agenda and want to turn our kindergarten kids into the “homosexual lifestyle”, reflect a degree of hate and irrational paranoia that precludes the possibility for productive discussion…
Nestor L. Lopez-Duran, PhD.
I'm a clinical child psychologist and researcher, currently working as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. In my research I examine a series of physiological and cognitive factors that contribute to the development of mood disorders in children and adolescents. I teach courses in clinical assessment and childhood mood disorders. I'm also the editor of Child-Psych, a research-based blog where I discuss the latest research findings on parenting, child disorders, and child development. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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