Last month, the suicide of Tyler Clementi -- a freshman at Rutgers University -- focused attention on a nationwide problem: Gay teens are more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Now, a community is coming together -- through home videos posted to YouTube -- offering hope and encouragement to gay teens. NPR's Melissa Block talks to author and columnist Dan Savage, the man behind the project. Photo
And I'm Melissa Block.
Last month, the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, focused attention on a nationwide problem: Gay teens are more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. And studies have found a large majority of gay youth experience bullying and harassment.
Now, a community is coming together, through home videos posted to YouTube, offering hope and encouragement to gay teens.
Mr. DAN KAUFMAN(ph): Hey everyone, my name is Dan Kaufman. I'm 45 years old now, and I'm a happy guy. But when I was in high school in New Jersey, I won't lie to you. It wasn't great.
Unidentified Woman #1: My story began as I was 12 years old, and I had my first crush on a girl. I didn't know what that meant. I just thought I was crazy. I sat there, and I wanted to know why God had made me so terrible. I had been raised in a Catholic...
Unidentified Man #1: Every day, somebody would mention it. It was just a word I got used to hearing: fag, faggot, girly. You name it, they called me it.
BLOCK: Those three testimonials and well over 1,000 more are accumulating in the online video project called It Gets Better.
Unidentified Woman #2: Please remember: It will end. It will get better.
Unidentified Woman #3: So it gets better.
Unidentified Man #2: It gets better. It really does. Just make sure you stick around to find out for yourself.
BLOCK: The It Gets Better project was created by author and columnist Dan Savage. Dan, welcome to the program.
Mr. DAN SAVAGE (Columnist; Creator, It Gets Better Project): Thank you for having me.
BLOCK: I had assumed that this all started after the suicide of Tyler Clementi, that Rutgers University student, but you actually had started this before that.
Mr. SAVAGE: Yeah, I had heard about the suicide of Justin Aaberg in Minnesota, and then this fall, early September, Billy Lucas in Greensburg, Indiana. And it was really in reaction to Billy Lucas's suicide. And he was not openly gay, but he was perceived to be gay as, you know, many victims of anti-gay bullying are not gay.
And I was really heartbroken and had the reaction that so many gay adults have when we hear these stories, is I wish I could have talked to that kid for five minutes and been able to tell him that it gets better.
But I would never get permission to talk to these kids or an invitation to talk to high school or middle schools. And it occurred to me that I was waiting for permission that I didn't need anymore because of YouTube and Twitter and Facebook, and I could record a video with my husband. We could talk about having survived bullying and our lives now and offer these kids hope.
And really, you know, and what's subversive about it is we're making an end run around a lot of these kids' parents, who don't want them to talk to openly gay adults or know that they can lead a successful, rewarding, content and happy life as an openly gay adult, their teachers, their school administrators and their religious, quote-unquote, "leaders" who don't want us to reach out to their kids and never have.
And we're done waiting for permission or an invitation, and we're going to address these kids and talk to these kids and give them hope whether their families, churches and schools like it or not.
“Most religious denominations continue to condemn homosexuality as sinful and provide a rationale for marginalizing LGB people.”
Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)
Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth
Although the social environment itself has not been defined as a risk factor for suicide, widespread discrimination against LGBT people, heterosexist attitudes, and gender bias can lead to risk factors such as isolation, family rejection, and lack of access to care providers. Risk factors may interact in unhealthy ways—for example, internalized homophobia or victimization may lead to stress, which is associated with depression and substance abuse, which can contribute to suicide risk. This risk may be compounded by a lack of protective factors that normally provide resilience, such as strong family connections, peer support, and access to effective health and mental health providers. Photo
In the United States prejudice and discrimination against LGB people are widespread among individuals, and in fact, supported by many religious, social, and government institutions. Homophobia and heterosexism are terms that refer to prejudice against LGB people and reflect prevalent social attitudes that most people have internalized (McDaniel et al., 2001).
Morrow (2004) points out that “GLBT adolescents must cope with developing a sexual minority identity in the midst of negative comments, jokes, and often the threat of violence because of their sexual orientation and/or transgender identity” (p. 91-92) and that, given the pervasive homophobia in our culture and in the families of LGBT youth, “the internalization of homophobic and heterosexist messages begins very early—often before GLBT youth fully realize their sexual orientation and gender identity” (p. 92). Morrow also says that positive role models for LGBT youth are hard to find.
Herek and colleagues (2007) describe a framework to understand the social environment for sexual minorities. The framework integrates the sociological idea of stigma with the psychological idea of prejudice. Through stigma, society discredits and invalidates homosexuality relative to heterosexuality. Institutions embodying stigma results in heterosexism, and heterosexual individuals internalizing stigma results in prejudice. The United States legal system has faced challenges by sexual minorities and sympathetic heterosexuals that have led to significant changes. However, the legal system continues to reinforce stigma through discriminatory laws and the absence of laws protecting sexual minorities from discrimination in employment, housing, and services. A minority of states had antidiscrimination laws as of 2005, and most of these only referred to employment and not to housing or services. Most religious denominations continue to condemn homosexuality as sinful and provide a rationale for marginalizing LGB people. Photo
Researchers suggest that this social environment puts stresses on LGBT people that elevate the risk of substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. One study (with participants in their mid-twenties) found that internalized homophobia was correlated with depression, although not directly correlated with suicide (Igartua et al., 2003). Mays and Cochran (2001) found growing evidence that experiences of discrimination can result in mental health and general health disorders. Analyzing data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), they compared LGB and heterosexual people’s mental health and experiences with discrimination. The MIDUS asked about the frequency of lifetime and day-to-day experiences of perceived discrimination including being denied a scholarship, being denied a bank loan, receiving poorer services at stores, and being called names. Mays and Cochran found that homosexual and bisexual individuals reported more frequently than heterosexual individuals both day-to-day and lifetime discrimination, and 42 percent attributed the discrimination at least in part to their sexual orientation. LGB individuals were twice as likely as heterosexuals to have experienced discrimination in a lifetime event and were five times more likely to indicate that discrimination had interfered with having a full and productive life. Perceived discrimination had a relatively robust association with mental disorders.
Meyer (2003) describes a social environment that is hostile and stressful for LGB people. His review of research demonstrates that social stressors are significantly associated with mental disorders and supports a model of minority stress that theorizes the higher prevalence of mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders among LGB people as “caused by excess in social stressors related to stigma and prejudice” (p. 691). Another study relates minority stressors to suicidal behavior: a study of gay men (with an average age of 38) found that three stressors—internalized homophobia, stigma (related to expectations of rejection and discrimination), and experiences of discrimination—were significantly associated with five outcomes indicating psychological distress, including suicidal ideation and behavior (Meyer, 1995).
Other studies find that internalized homophobia and conflict about sexual orientation appear to contribute to suicide risk among LGB youth. One study reported that LGB youth are at higher risk of suicide if they report high levels of internal conflict about their sexual orientation (Savin-Williams, 1990). Another study of gay men (with a median age in the twenties) found that internalized homophobia was associated with depression and anxiety, which increased suicide risk (Igartua, Gill, & Montoro, 2003). A third study indicated that positive role models and high self-esteem are protective factors against suicide in young gay men (Fenaughty & Harre, 2003).
Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth - Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)
Bullying in Schools: Harassment Puts Gay Youth at Risk - Mental Health America
Prepared by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center
for the Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Supported by Grant No. 1 U79 SM57392-02
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) provides prevention support, training, and resources to assist organizations and individuals to develop suicide prevention programs, interventions and policies, and to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Education Development Center, Inc.
55 Chapel Street
Newton MA 02458
GAY TEENAGE SUICIDE
Roman Catholic - hierarchy child sexual abuse “cover-ups”
ordered by Benedict XVI
to avoid public outrage & criminal charges
falsely accused gay priests - WATERGATE?
The following statements are harsh statements, but unfortunately they are heavily documented. (1) Benedict XVI and his hierarchy failed to protect children from child sexual abuse for decades. (2) They mistreated and intimidated the victims and their families who came to report the child sexual abuse, in order to cover up publicity of any child sexual abuse. (3) They failed to protect children by repeatedly reassigning the child sexual abusers to assignments where children would be present. (4) When the hierarchy’s criminal negligence failing to protect children became public, globally, in 2002 they shifted the blame wrongfully onto gay priests.
Read complete report: Child Protection Service of the Archdiocese of Dublin
(5) By falsely, against known research to the contrary, blaming gay priests they implicated the entire LGBT community and how they are fighting against Marriage Equality. When the scientific facts known for decades about human sexuality have been discounted with no substantiated facts given to explain why, it causes many questions whether Benedict XVI and the hierarchy’s fight against Marriage Equality is more a fight to maintained the cover-up of the hierarchy’s criminal negligence failing to protect children? Benedict XVI and his hierarchy need to clearly offer substantiated reasons why they are against Marriage Equality. This statement needs to be spelled out in great detail and follow Pope John Paul II’s test of truth of not separating science and religion.
(6) Benedict XVI and the hierarchy’s continuous public propaganda against homosexuality encourages public intolerance towards LGBTQ&I adults and children. They continue to do this even though this summer 2 major Christian denominations approved LGBT singled and partnered people for all forms of ordained ministries. (7) Benedict XVI and the hierarchy’s continuous promulgation of the Vatican’s unsubstantiated antigay teachings that are harmful to children in their early childhood psychological developmental years, harm that is crippling throughout their lives. They have continued this even after the beginning of the year, 2009, the Family Acceptance Project research studies had shown the negative effects caused to youths, when their sexual orientation is not accepted, having health problems, suicidal ideation, etc. They ignore all the major medical, psychiatric, psychological and social workers national and international professional associations regarding their findings regarding human sexuality and sexual orientation. WHEN DO WE START PROTECTING CHILDREN?!?!
Written by Fr. Marty Kurylowicz
Sexual orientation - Internalized Homophobia - “Auschwitz – Benedict XVI - Christmas 2008 -A flashback far more severe than in Brokeback Mountain” GAY TEENAGE SUICIDE - Fr. Marty Kurylowicz
Nothing in life is more precious than the intimate relationships we have with love ones. Healthy love relationships delight us give us confidence to take on challenges and support us in difficult times. Photo
maybe, there will exist
yet fervent public conviction
most deadly of all possible
is the mutilation of
…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
No disrespect meant to Pope Benedict XVI or the hierarchy, the one and only concern is the safety and well-being of children.