Thursday, October 14, 2010

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…
Read complete article:

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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Dan Savage's Message To Gay Youth: 'It Gets Better'
Melissa Block, October12, 2010
All Things Considered - NPR
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.

“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

Social Environment

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).
Read more:

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.
Read more:

Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Education Development Center, Inc.
55 Chapel Street
Newton MA 02458
877-GET-SPRC (438-7772)

Tortured For Being Gay,
by Andrew Sullivan, October 9, 2010
The Atlantic
This story in the NYT this morning obviously speaks for itself. The plight of gay teens and youths, despite so much advances in the culture, for so many remain an unimaginable nightmare. The truth is not, I suspect, that there is a sudden new wave of this; the truth is that we have not been so aware of it before, or that shame on the part of victims, has kept some of this from the light of day. The five well-publicized suicides of the last month do not represent a rise, which is why I've tried before on this blog to mention The Trevor Project, an organization devoted to helping to save suicidal gay teens and children... ------------------------------------Photo

For too long, gay people have been described by too many on the right as a threat to the family, society and decency. Those words have consequences. This is especially true of religious leaders. When even the Pope describes us as "intrinsically disordered" and directed to an "objective moral evil", when Republicans call us a threat to family life, when NOM runs ads of a "storm coming", I hope they understand what these words do to the psyches and souls of the young and impressionable, and to those who need a mere signal to take up arms and attack us.

When you do these things to the least of my brethren, you do them to me, said Jesus. I pray that those who say they follow him would sometimes remember those words when it comes to the rhetoric that gay children and teens cannot help but hear...
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Gay bullying and Catholic responsibilities 
by David Gibson, October 8, 2010 

A striking aspect of the focus by many bishops on the battle against gay marriage, such as the DVD campaign by Minnesota’s Archbishop John Nienstedt, discussed below, is how out of synch it is with the tragic realities of bullying against gay youths, brought home so forcefully by the deaths of Tyler Clementi and many other teens.

Bishops who have been concerned about gay marriage have also been fighting against anti-bullying laws that include sexual orientation (along with religion and race, e.g.) as a targeted category, which studies show it often is. They argue that including sexual orientation to protect youths from harassment is the slippery slope to gay marriage and other gay rights.

I have a story at today about some serious soul-searching by Christians, especially those of the conservative stripe, about their language and approach on gays in light of the rash of suicides and bullying that has come to light.
Read more:

Homophobia in the Church:
What Catholics Are Doing About It, and
What Still Needs to Be Done
By Michele Somerville, October 10, 2010
The Huffington Post

I attended a Roman Catholic baptism about two weeks ago. A crowd of young parents and others of all ages stood in semi-circle around the font. The atmosphere was reverent yet festive. Toddlers squirmed. The church was exquisite. Blades of late-morning light slid down through colored glass. The priest exuded hope and delight as he kicked off the rites. As the two parents approached the font to offer their child to the church, I began to tear up. My 11-year-old daughter Grace, not unaccustomed to my poet's penchant for being capsized by moments so tender, saw my waterworks start up, rolled her eyes as adolescents do, smiled, and handed me a tissue. As I often do when my emotions get the best of me in the presence of my children, I get all pedagogical on them. I whispered sidebars to Grace: "That's litany of the saints, it's beautiful when sung in Latin... And that the part about Satan and the empty promises -- it's technically an exorcism!" Photo

I didn't have to explain that it was no ordinary baptism we were witnessing. She knew it was extraordinary, because I had taught her. The two parents at the font were bravely (or so I believe) demonstrating their desire not to throw the baby out with the baptismal water.

They were two gay dads asking a church governed by bullies to bless their child.

My daughter later asked how it was that gay people could have their children baptized in Catholic churches but not be married in them. Good question. I broke it down for her. I told her a far greater percentage of Catholics support gay marriage than support the Vatican. I characterized the failure of my church to offer gay Catholics marriage in the church as just that -- "a failure." And a sin. Photo - not the 2 dads in this article
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Pope Benedict to Beatify a Gay Saint?
 A Conservative Icon? Maybe Both
by David Gibson – September 18, 2010
Politics Daily

…"It is not good for a Pope to live 20 years," Newman once wrote of the long-lived Pius IX. "It is an anomaly and bears no good fruit; he becomes a god, has no one to contradict him, does not know facts, and does cruel things without meaning it."

Such frank talk about the failings of the hierarchy tended to make Newman a champion of liberal Catholics -- a courageous man who wrote about the "development of doctrine" in the church at a time when the Vatican was projecting an image of unceasing continuity. He also disagreed strongly with the church's adoption of the doctrine of papal infallibility, and famously wrote that if pressed, he would drink "to Conscience first and the Pope afterwards." Photo 

…Complicating all the interpretations is the fact that Newman had an extraordinarily close relationship with another English Catholic, Father Ambrose St. John, who had died in 1875, leaving Newman bereft -- and giving today's gay Christians an icon of their own.

"I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one's sorrow greater, than mine," Newman wrote at the time of his friend's death. "From the first he loved me with an intensity of love which was unaccountable." And elsewhere: "As far as this world was concerned I was his first and last."

Sexual orientation - Internalized Homophobia - “Auschwitz – Benedict XVI - Christmas 2008 -A flashback far more severe than in Brokeback Mountain” GAY TEENAGE SUICIDE - Fr. Marty Kurylowicz

Attachment Theory
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

Gay marriage ->
Restoring "Hope of Love"
To Children In Early Childhood -> Marriage Equality
March 23, 2010 – by Fr. Marty Kurylowicz

Marriage Equality, like Galileo, is the truth about the facts of growing up gay. Marriage Equality will not become a reality until people learn that its most vital purpose is that it restores the “hope of love” to children in early childhood – essential to their development and well-being for life. Without Marriage Equality we teach children how to hate love and how to be mean and indifferent to people as adults. With all due respect, without Marriage Equality we would teach them in much the same way as has been shown by Benedict XVI and the hierarchy, especially in their lack of care and protection of children for decades.

maybe, there will exist 
well considered 
yet fervent public conviction 
that the
most deadly of all possible
is the mutilation of
child’s spirit.”

…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.
Matthew 18:6

Important note:
No disrespect meant to Pope Benedict XVI or the hierarchy, the one and only concern is the safety and well-being of children.

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