Inspired by the 'It Gets Better' Project, the AULA President offers hope to bullied teens
CULVER CITY, Calif., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to a rash of teen suicides in the month of September and inspired by the example set by the "It Gets Better " Project and The Trevor Project, Antioch University Los Angeles President Neal King, PhD, recorded a video reaching out to despondent gay teens.
The video has since been uploaded to AULA's access page on YouTube and can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMDtpnoKfAs
As one of the first and few openly gay presidents in higher education today, Dr. King offers a unique voice and perspective to the scores of teens in the world who are harassed daily for their sexual orientation. A gay activist from the age of 28 and legally married to his partner of fourteen years, Dr. King is familiar with the struggles and triumphs that come with living gay in today's world.
n a warm and personalized message, President King impresses upon LGBTQ teens that they are not alone in their struggle. "Even though we don't know each other, there are people out there who care about you like me," shared Dr. King, "and who fight every day for your right to live openly and love openly." As president of Antioch University Los Angeles, Dr. King works actively to increase awareness of LGBTQ issues and to support the principles of social equity upon which Antioch College was originally founded.
The "It Get's Better" Project was founded by columnist Dan Savage after learning of the tragic suicide of fifteen year old Billy Lucas, a gay teen who hanged himself after enduring intense bullying by his classmates. Frustrated by schools and churches that prevent gay adults from talking to troubled teens like Billy, Savage turned to the Internet to reach out to them directly.
Another organization that has received widespread recognition for its focus on crisis and suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth is The Trevor Project. According to The Trevor Project, suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds, and LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Those who come from a family who rejects their sexual orientation are up to nine times more likely to do so.
With more than 6,000 distinguished alumni, AULA has been honored to serve the diverse communities of the greater Los Angeles area since 1972. Our core values of social justice, service to community, and lifelong learning comprise the heart of our BA degree completion program and master's degree programs in organizational management, education and teacher credentialing, psychology, urban sustainability and creative writing.
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Antioch University Los Angeles
Mourning Clementi and challenging homophobia
By Luke Massa, October 14, 2010
The Daily Princetonian
This year’s National Coming Out Day was marked by a sense of urgency. The LGBT Center hosted a panel discussion on what it means to be “too gay” that included an LGBT teen suicide expert. Countless news articles about this day of awareness spoke of vigils and prayer. This was a reaction to the seven publicized homophobia-driven suicides in the last month, from 13-year old Seth Walsh in California to 19-year old Zach Harrington in Oklahoma who killed himself last weekend. So let us pause to seriously reflect on one such incident that occurred 15 miles from our campus before the rapid news cycle allows us to forget about this issue.
Tyler Clementi was a freshman at Rutgers whose roommate used a webcam to tape Clementi having homosexual sex. He then tweeted about the video with a friend, saying “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” A similar incident occurred a few days later; this time the roommate invited people to view the video live via Skype. Clementi subsequently committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
The tragedy of this story is seemingly boundless. Clementi was an accomplished violinist with great musical potential. He had apparently applied for a room change. He was a shy boy who likely reached out on an online message board for help and support. Every new detail forces us to ask, “How?” How could this still happen in 2010? How could his roommate and his roommate’s friend do this? How are we, as a community, responsible?
I went to an informal discussion at the LGBT Center about this incident to see if I could get some answers. I came to realize that the third question is the most important: What responsibility does the community have? I came to realize that our society shares the blame in this incident…
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Society’s ‘bullies’ should shoulder blame in suicides of gay teens
by D.L. Stewart
October 12, 2010 – Dayton Daily News
…Experts say suicides by gay teenagers is nothing new. But the recent headlines have many persons, both heterosexual and gay, searching for causes.
Is it negligent teachers and lax school administrators? Parents who pass along their homophobic fears to the next generation? Politicians who pander for votes by railing against a so-called “gay agenda” that “threatens America’s families”?
Dan Savage, a sex columnist based in Seattle, cites one more “accomplice.” Religious leaders who use “anti-gay rhetoric.”
“The problem is that kids are being exposed to this rhetoric and then they go to the school and there’s this gay kid,” he said. “And how are they going to treat this gay kid who they’ve been told is trying to destroy their family? They’re going to abuse him.”
Those are, perhaps, only a few. But they are a few too many. Too many who are eager to picket the funerals of slain soldiers, waving banners declaring that “God hates fags.” Too many prominent preachers claiming that the attacks of 9/11 were a consequence of “the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians.”
There is nothing I can think of more tragic than the death of a child. But perhaps the short, tortured lives of Seth Walsh, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown and Tyler Clementi won’t be in vain.
Perhaps they will give more people the courage to stand up to the righteous bigots who claim to speak for God as they preach hatred from their bully pulpits. To the preachers, the politicians and the parents who send — or even tolerate — the message that it is OK to taunt someone for being different…
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