Virginia’s lower house passed a bill on Thursday that would allow student groups at public universities to deny members because they conflict with the groups’ religious beliefs. The bill, passed overwhelmingly by a 80-19 vote, prohibts “discriminating against a student organization or group on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of the organization or group’s speech.” The bill also allows religious or political student organizations to determine who will not be allowed in their membership “in furtherance of the organization’s religious or political mission.”
Republicans got behind the bill, while Democrats were less enthusiastic. LGBT leaders in the state believe this will give student groups a free pass to deny and boot gay and transgender members.
“Our concern with the bill is it allows discrimination with publicly accessible funds,” Kevin Clay of Equality Virginia told Metroweekly. The bill now heads to the state senate.
TW: suicide, anti-gay bullying/Jadin Bell, Gay Oregon Teen, Taken Off Life Support After Hanging Himself
TW: suicide, anti-gay bullying
A gay Oregon teen was taken off of life support after hanging himself in the playground of a local elementary school. Komo News reports that 15-year-old Jadin Bell attempted suicide by climbing on a playground structure and hanging himself. Family friend Bud Hill, who said his considered Bell his nephew, told the news station that the high school sophomore had been the victim of intense bullying both in person and on the Internet because he was gay.
“He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones,” Hill told the news station. He remembered Bell fondly: “If someone was down and out he would walk into a room and say a couple quick words and everybody would just forget about their problems and smile. He just had a gift.”
The LaGrande Observer reported that over 200 people, including family members and classmates, turned out at a candlelight vigil for Bell last week.
Click the header link above to read the full article and watch the video.
By Kate McKenna
GUELPH — The AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington County has developed a mobile app as part of its campaign to combat homophobia and educate people about HIV. The app, H3: Halt Homophobia & HIV, allows people to get answers to questions about HIV transmission, provides witty comebacks to homophobic slurs and “even has a quiz which can rate your level of homophobia,” according to a news release. According to Olivia Kijewski, the AIDS Committee’s positive prevention co-ordinator, the app was developed with the help of a local developer and with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. She said it is aimed at resolving internalized homophobia and improving communication about HIV in a fun way. “HIV isn’t a particularly sexy topic,” said Kijewski.
She said there is a connection between experiencing homophobia and contracting HIV. People who experience homophobia, she said, tend to have lower self-esteem and are more likely to engage in risky behaviours, which could result in HIV transmission. Kijewski said the AIDS Committee has seen a lot of resilience and support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning community in Guelph, but there is room for improvement. She said people often don’t think of the consequences of forms of homophobia, such as childhood bullying, slurs and using “gay” in a derogatory way.
With the app, when someone says: “That’s so gay,” people can use the app to produce comebacks, such as: “Did you mean to call it lovely, awesome or joyful?” — encouraging people to adopt more positive meanings for the word. “Homophobia is everywhere and it takes on all kinds of forms,” said Kijewski, adding that it often isn’t as “in your face” as violence. The AIDS Committee hopes to reach a wide audience through people’s mobile devices, including youth at risk and the LGBTQ community. But Kijewski said it’s an opportunity for people of all sexualities to come together and fight homophobia and HIV. The AIDS Committee will host a launch party for the app on Jan. 31 at 8:30 p.m., at the Albion Hotel, including music, dancing, an app demonstration and prizes, according to the news release. The launch will coincide with the Albion’s unofficial “queer night.” According to Kijewski, holding the event there will ensure that they are able to reach people in a safe place and surrounded by people who will be receptive to the app.
The boy’s father said his son was being bullied at school, for what his grandmother said might be perceived as “gay tendencies.” The boy’s family say they informed school officials about the bullying, but saw no action taken. They contend the boy brought the knife to school to defend himself. School and police officials challenge the family’s allegation that the student was bullied and administrators did nothing to intervene.
“Right now there is nothing on file with the school that she has been told of any bullying,” police captain David Brannan told a local ABC affiliate. ”But there will be more interviews done to find out.”
The child is currently in custody at a juvenile assessment center in Polk County, reports the station.
The leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood says there needs to be greater consistency in the way homophobic school bullying is recorded by local authorities in Wales. A freedom of information (FOI) request by the party found that only four out of 22 local authorities had information about bullying incidents.
Ceredigion council in mid-west Wales recorded 73 incidents of homophobic bullying which have been dealt with at its schools since September 2010. Conwy council in north Wales said that it was aware of 18 incidents over the same period while one had been recorded at Gwynedd in north-west Wales, and Bridgend, south Wales. The other 18 councils said they did not keep records, although schools might.
Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood told ITV News:
“We know that bullying in general…a lot of it is hidden because young people don’t come forward, with homophobic bullying it is likely to be even more of a problem because of the stigma attached to being gay. She added: “Unless we have a true picture of exactly what’s going on, then it’s very difficult to put policies in place to overcome the problem.”
In response, a Welsh Government spokesman said:
“Bullying of any kind is totally unacceptable. In October last year, we published a suite of comprehensive anti-bullying guidance which includes a specific section on homophobic bullying. The guidance advises on preventing, responding to and monitoring and recording homophobic bullying. Good recording procedures allow schools to demonstrate that they are taking steps to tackle bullying, and that initiatives are effective. We would encourage all local authorities to work with schools in adopting systems to record incidents of homophobic bullying and ensuring they are acted upon.”
By Shilpa Phadnis,
LGBT-friendly companies celebrate diversity and inclusion by covering sexual orientation in their policies and employee handbooks. The rationale for LGBT inclusion is an essential part of business for firms demonstrating diversity.
Click the header link above to read the full article.
“I was wearing an old Salvation Army shop boy’s suit. As I went to the bathroom I heard people saying, ‘Hey, faggot.’ They slammed my head into a locker. I fell to the ground and they started to kick the shit out of me. I had to have stitches. The school kicked me out, not the bullies. Years later, I went to a coffee shop and I ran into one of the girls who’d kicked me, and she said, ‘Winona, Winona, can I have your autograph?’ And I said, ‘Do you remember me? Remember in seventh grade you beat up that kid?’ And she said, ‘Kind of’. And I said, ‘That was me. Go fuck yourself.’”
Zephyrhills High School in Florida, which saw a student try to take his own life because of antigay bullying a year ago, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education.
The department’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating based on a complaint by the mother of Zachery Gray that he and other students “have been subjected to harassment based on gender stereotypes,” Tampa Bay–area TV station
Lee Hirsch is giving dozens of interviews to promote the documentary but has talked little about what his own childhood was like, perhaps because he says much of it’s still blocked out.
Bully lets us peek into the school lives of several kids who are being tormented by classmates — but only because director Lee Hirsch was there to witness it all happening.
What propelled him into making the eyebrow-raising documentary must have been, in part, his own childhood, when walking home from school was like pushing through a “gauntlet” and other kids beat on him for “sport.” For Hirsch, the camera was his way of fighting back for the kids in the film and for those all over the country who are experiencing the same thing.
Hirsch spoke with The Advocate about growing up bullied, whether the problem really does affect LGBT youth more, and how he got former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to tell his Fox News viewers that they should go see the movie.
Click the link above to read the interview.
TRIGGER WARNING: anti-gay bullying, suicide
Police closed the Jamey Rodemeyer case today without prosecuting any of his bullies, saying they lacked proof he’d been harassed.
Rodemeyer killed himself in September after facing bullying that he “could never escape,” he said in posts on the Internet. But Amherst, N.Y., police chief John Askey said that despite the 14-year-old’s complaints online about bullying, there wasn’t enough evidence of what happened, and the bullying couldn’t be pinned to any single student.
For example, police toldTheBuffalo News that they had investigated five incidents at North High School and found none had been reported to authorities, leaving investigators to rely on secondhand information.
“In most cases, you need a victim and a complaint,” Askey told the News, noting that he isn’t satisfied with the outcome.
After their son’s death, Rodemeyer’s parents shared a story on the Today show of how their daughter had gone to a school dance to take her mind off the death of her brother only to be met with taunts of “better off dead.” The superintendent identified the student responsible for the chants and issued a suspension, taking the punishment “to the fullest extent allowed under education law.”
That appears to be where the punishment will stop in the Rodemeyer case. The superintendent said he planned more education about the effects of bullying.
The tragedy had become a flash point in the national debate over how to address bullying, with Lady Gaga raising the issue with President Obama shortly afterward and activists calling for increased antibullying protections in schools.
Also in recent months, a videotaped beating of an Ohio student whose mother says he was repeatedly harassed for being gay became a viral sensation on YouTube because of outrage.
All of this has contributed to renewed attention around bullying and how it sometimes ends in death, including a special report from Anderson Cooper on CNN. Experts recommend that any young LGBT person with thoughts of suicide contact the Trevor Project’s hotline (866-4-U-TREVOR).
(TRIGGER WARNING: sexism, heterosexism, anti-gay slurs, bullying)
A high school football coach in Buffalo, Wy., has resigned after distributing a mock survey entitled the “Hurt Feelings Report,” in which responses for players to check off included, “I am a pussy,” “I am a queer,” and “I am a little bitch.”
Pat Lynch, who had been head football coach at Buffalo High School for 13 years and had led the team to two state football championships, resigned from that position earlier this week, but the school board has allowed him to retain his position as a guidance counselor at the high school under administrative supervision, reported the Casper Star-Tribune.
In the aftermath, Johnson County School District 1 superintendent Dr. Rod Kessler was supportive of Lynch and the efforts to repair his reputation.
“[Lynch] screwed up, he screwed up big time,” Kessler said.
“The coaching, we didn’t want that to be the issue anymore. We wanted him to have his priority back where it was as a counselor.
Click the link above to read the full article.
Carrying out projects in class, or as a school, makes sense if you are trying to find out whether bullying is a problem in your school, or whether your anti-bullying policy is effective.
By Cecilia Kang
There’s something about the Internet that can bring out meanness in teenagers.
That is one finding of a study to be released Wednesday that reports that nine in 10 teenagers say they have witnessed cruelty by their peers on social networks.
For the vast majority of teens, Facebook is the social network of choice. They say that incidents of mean and cruel behavior are pervasive and cut across all ages and backgrounds on social networks, according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, which surveyed 800 children between the ages of 12 and 17.
The data on Internet experiences for young people is not all bad. Eight in 10 teenagers said they have developed positive feelings about themselves and forged better friendships on social networking sites, according to Pew.
Still, the prevalence of “mean” behavior — a term the center doesn’t define — raised concerns among child-safety advocates and parents who say adolescents may be subjecting themselves to unhealthy online environments.
Click the link above to read the full article.