Why the gay-blind approach to bullying won't work.
Today's post was co-written with Nestor L. Lopez-Duran PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan.
Pssst...... Refusing to acknowledge differences won't make them go away.
Over the past few weeks, we have been inundated with stories of bullied and shamed young people taking their own lives due to the hostile environment of socially sanctioned hate.
Just this September three teens committed suicide after experiencing severe bullying: 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Indiana, 13-year old Asher Brown of Texas, and 13-year-old of California. All three teens were self-identified as, or perceived by their classmates to be, gay. Also in September Tyler Clementi, an 18-year -old freshman at Rutgers University, committed suicide after his roommate video taped him having an encounter with another boy and streamed the video over the internet to other students, and 19-year-old Zach Harrington committed suicide after attending a homophobia-filled City Council meeting in Norman, Oklahoma, where his neighbors opposed the designation of October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered History Month.
However, despite the recent media attention to this issue, the bullying of gay teens and the resulting high rates of suicide among them, have been major problems for years. This led Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-PA) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to introduce the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), which would require schools receiving federal funding to implement policies to explicitly prohibit bullying on the basis of the "student's actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion".
The SSIA received strong opposition from religious organizations who objected to the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected target group. For example, the lobbying organization Focus on the Family argued that this bill would "open the door to teaching about homosexuality as early as kindergarten. And it would lay the foundation for codifying sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes," which they oppose…
…Bullying is not a rite of passage. Some may disregard the recent suicides as anomalies. Yet, research indicates that bullying leads to many long term consequences. Bullying is also preventable. Some have opposed anti-bullying efforts on the premise that bullying programs don't work. However, whole-school interventions, those that go beyond making simple changes to the curriculum to address the entire school culture, are highly effective and should be the model all schools should follow. Yet, decades of research on race and racism teach us that adopting a gayblind approach to this problem is not only unwarranted, but it may make the problem worse.
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Kira Hudson Banks, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Bullying, gay teen suicides, and a need for a solution –
by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD,
October 11, 2010
Child Psychology Research Blog
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.
Gay Teen Suicides Pervasive, A 'Hidden Problem': Expert
Lucia Graves, October 22, 2010
The Huffington Post
LGBT Ally Week: Take a Stand for LOVE!
by Jason Mannino, October 22, 2010
The Huffington Post
Bullies and Victims: Boys will be boys or a symptom of distress?
by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD
October 14, 2010
Child Psychology Research Blog
Several months ago I reported on a series of studies regarding the long term effects of bullying. See for example a discussion on factors that are associated with being a victim or a bully, or this discussion on the effects of bullying on children with special needs. I also reported on a very interesting study that examine the long term consequences of bullying. Data from that study showed that being a victim of bullying in middle childhood almost double the odds of having psychotic symptoms during adolescence. In that post I discussed one major limitation of that study. While the data seem to imply that experiencing bullying could play a role (‘a causative’ role) in the eventual emergence of psychotic symptoms, it was also possible that those “children who were on path to developing psychotic disorders also engaged in behaviors during early childhood that made them more likely to be victims of bullying.”
Read complete report:
It gets better:
A video campaign featuring hundreds of videos
by people standing up for gay youth
by Dr. Brian Mustanski
October 8, 2010
Video campaign to gay youth says, "It gets better."
In September several LGBT young people tragically took their own lives. In the media it was reported that they had experienced bullying, victimization, and harassment. While the reasons why someone chooses to take their own life are very complicated, we do know that things do get better and that suicide is not the answer. To help tell the story of how things get better famous syndicated columnist Dan Savage launched a YouTube channel that allows gay adults to upload videos of themselves describing the bullying they might have experienced in high school, but also talking about how much better their lives are now.It is a rare opportunity for gay adults to speak directly to gay youth and explain that while sometimes you may feel isolated, that life gets better. Many celebrities joined in and shared their words of encouragements with the simple message that "it gets better."
If you are struggling with a difficult time and need someone to talk to I encourage you to call the Trevor Project 24 hour hotline designed specifically for LGBT young people at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR. We also have a lot of resources for LGBT and questionning youth on our website at the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program.
I encourage all youth to think about how great your life can be in the future. This can be a powerful way to cope with some of the tough times you might be experiencing right now. It will get better and you can have an amazing life!
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Dr. Brian Mustanski is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for Juvenile Research and is an expert in LGBT health and development. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/bloggers/brian-mustanski-phd
Discussing all things related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) health and development: from the biology of sexual orientation to talking to your family about sexuality to the pros and cons of the Internet in our romantic lives.
by Dr. Brian Mustanski
Why are these young people proud of their sexual orientation?
by Dr. Brian Mustanski
September 20, 2010
See how these young people are proud to be LGBT.
The "I Heart My Sexuality" campaign is being conducted by the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The project aims to highlight the strengths of LGBTQ youth, instill pride in the community, and tell stories of healthy relationships. We set up a video booth at the 2010 Chicago Pride Festival and asked people to write on a card why they "heart" or love their sexuality. The response was overwhelming, with over 200 cards completed. The cards were just released on the IMPACT website, allowing visitors to view the cards and read the inspiring and sometimes funny messages. The main goal of these cards is to share examples of why people are proud to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. There were also cards completed by heterosexuals sharing why they are proud to be included or connected to the gay community. You can view some of the cards below, or go to the campaign page to view more.
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Happy 2nd Year Anniversary Thalamus Center
The Thalamus Center project is about
Protecting Children by education about Human Sexuality.
Fr. Marty Kurylowicz
There is a scene in an old TV series called “All in the Family” where Edith Bunker is experiencing menopause and she does not know what is happening to her. Edith’s daughter Gloria is explaining to her the symptoms of menopause. Edith feels bad that her daughter has to tell her about menopause. Photo
Edith expresses her frustration and sadness about her lifetime lack of knowledge about human sexuality. (A video clip, click on the quote, below)
“When I was a young girl, I didn’t’ know what every young girl should know. Now, I‘m going to be an old lady, and I don’t know what every old lady should know.” Edith Bunker, “All in the Family”
Edith is not alone even today. Much of the opposition to same sex marriage is likely to a great degree related to feelings and confusion about many aspects of human sexuality exactly like Edith, on the part of millions of people, for women as well as for men, everyone.
Ignorance about human sexuality is extremely harmful to children.
Gay Teen Suicide & Gay Marriage
– Benedict XVI and the Hierarchy –
Accountability Child Sexual Abuse & Abuse LGBT Children
- HUMAN LIFE, MORAL CONSCIENCE & AUTHORITATIVE TEACHING
Child Protection Service of the
Archdiocese of Dublin
Gay Marriage Obsession of Benedict XVI
Neglected Safety of Children
Cover-ups Wrongly Blaming Gays - -
“What the Pope Knew”
September 25, 2010,
CNN & CNN International
Gay Marriage - WITCH HUNTS ->The Crucible (1996) -> McCarthyism 1940’s -1950’s, -> Benedict XVI 2005
Senator Joseph McCarthy, with his reckless charges of spies and ''comsymps,'' occupied the front pages, while behind the scenes J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the F.B.I., presided over and manipulated a vast internal security bureaucracy, issuing periodic bulletins intended to fan the flames of the domestic cold war. Photo
In the center ring were the congressional inquisitor-investigators, asking ''Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?''
Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation
Dr. Gregory Herek,
University of California at Davis &
Yale University &
City University of New York
Report: Homosexuality No Factor in Abusive Priests
by RACHEL ZOLL
ABC News – 2009
New Catholic Sex Abuse Findings: Gay Priests Are Not the Problem
by DAVID GIBSON
Politics Daily - November 18, 2009
Witch hunt for gay priests
off base when target should be child abusers
By: Iver Bogen,
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth News Tribune
Pope Benedict XVI in August 2005 ordered an investigation of America’s 229 Catholic seminaries in order to eliminate gay seminarians. The week of Sept. 27, Vatican investigators began the “witch-hunt” at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. The question posed to the students: “Are you, or have you ever been, a homosexual?” Photo
Pope Benedict XVI in August 2005 ordered an investigation of America’s 229 Catholic seminaries in order to eliminate gay seminarians. The week of Sept. 27, Vatican investigators began the “witch-hunt” at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. The question posed to the students: “Are you, or have you ever been, a homosexual?”
The investigation was reminiscent of the house arrest of Galileo in his home near Florence from 1633 until his death in 1642 for espousing the Copernican heliocentric view of the universe. The church does not suffer “heretical” thinking well and is extremely slow in altering its doctrines to be consistent with scientific progress as well as changes in cultural mores regarding acceptable human behaviors… Photo
… It is my belief the Catholic Church’s focus on gay priests is merely a strategy for affixing blame and is consistent with its historical antipathy toward homosexuality and same-sex behaviors. However, research in the area of child sexual abuse suggests that pedophilic intrusions occur preponderantly with heterosexual males rather than gay men. It is not one’s orientation that is predictive of pedophilia. According to Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy, “The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or women.” Cartoon of Benedict XVI & Hierarchy
Being immature psycho-sexually, these men find themselves responding sexually to other males who also are immature. One’s orientation is not predictive of pedophilia. Read complete article - By: Iver Bogen,
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth News Tribune
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?
December 17, 2009 -
by Fr. Marty Kurylowicz
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 http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB09000504
(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
“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 GWB
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
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