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Teen boy commits suicide in Indiana after school bullying

Uncategorized

(Cross-posted at LGBTPOV)

By Karen Ocamb

Billy Lucas

Billy Lucas, 15, hung himself in the family’s barn in Greensburg, Indiana Thursday, Sept. 2, according to the local Fox News station. Apparently students at Greensburg High School bullied him for being gay, though he had not come out. Billy’s mother found her son.

“People would call him ‘fag’ and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically,” student Dillen Swango told Fox. “They said stuff like ‘you’re like a piece of crap’ and ‘you don’t deserve to live.’ Different things like that. Talked about how he was gay or whatever.”

Principal Phil Chapple said he knew students were being bullied – but he was “not aware of that situation” with Billy, Chapple told Fox.

Charles Robbins, Executive Director of the 24/7 helpline for LGBT youth, The Trevor Project, said in a statement:

“We are saddened to once again hear of another young person who died of suicide as a result of school bullying…..Currently, there is no national standard to protect all of our children from bullying and harassment at school. Yet, we know that as many as 1 in 10 sexual minority youth have been physically assaulted at school, and that when youth are threatened or get into fights, or have property stolen at school, their risk of attempting suicide more than doubles.”

There’s a Facebook page honoring Billy Lucas.

On Tuesday, President Obama gave a “Back to School” speech in Philadelphia. In his prepared remarks he said:

“Being a teenager isn’t easy. It’s a time when we’re wrestling with a lot of things. When I was your age, I was wrestling with questions about who I was; about what it meant to be the son of a white mother and a black father, and not having that father in my life. Some of you may be working through your own questions right now, and coming to terms with what makes you different.

And I know that figuring all that out can be even more difficult when you’ve got bullies in class who try to use those differences to pick on you or poke fun at you; to make you feel bad about yourself. In some places, the problem is more serious. There are neighborhoods in my hometown of Chicago, where kids have hurt one another. And the same thing has happened here in Philly.

So, what I want to say to you today – what I want all of you to take away from my speech – is that life is precious, and part of its beauty lies in its diversity. We shouldn’t be embarrassed by the things that make us different. We should be proud of them. Because it’s the things that make us different that make us who we are. And the strength and character of this country have always come from our ability to recognize ourselves in one another, no matter who we are, or where we come from, what we look like, or what abilities or disabilities we have.”

Check the White House website for his complete speech.

209 Comments

  • 1. AndrewPDX  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:05 am

    And the anti-equality Trolls we've had here talk about how homosexuals aren't being persecuted… Not that I would wish someone to die, but if the number of McChristians beaten to death gets anywhere near the LGBTI numbers, maybe I'll stop calling them bigots.

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Andrew

  • 2. AndrewPDX  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Ooooh! and I'm first… I guess that means I have to set up the snack trays…

    Let's see, of course a big pitcher of MILK over here… maybe some fresh cornbread with honey-butter over there… the land of Milk and Honey is definitely available for all who want to partake over here 🙂

    How about some cashew sandies for dessert?

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Andrew

  • 3. Lee  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Okay, that was just adorable, Andrew. XD Really needed the dose of cheer after such a sad article.

  • 4. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:29 am

    And since this is our season of honey and apples, I will add the coiled round challah of Rosh Hoshanah which has raisins in the bread and honey poured over it. And some more honey butter spread.

  • 5. Ann S.  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Just scribin'

  • 6. JonT  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:53 am

    …but if the number of McChristians beaten to death…

    Hell Andrew, has that number even reached '1' yet?

    And subscribing. And very, very sad.

  • 7. BK  |  September 16, 2010 at 3:14 am

    "McChristians"

    Hey! Andrew! You used the term! 😀 It's becoming popular! (chuckle)

  • 8. Ronnie  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Demand that the SNDA be passed NOW!!!!

    PASS SNDA!!!!…HAVE A HEART & SAVE THE DAY!!!…HEY HEY!!!….HO HO!!!…HOMOPHOBIAS GOT TO GO!!!

    <3…Ronnie

  • 9. Linda  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:14 am

    President Obama–I look forward to the day that your actions are in agreement with your words.

  • 10. Chris in Lathrop  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I second that!

  • 11. Bill  |  September 15, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Times INFINITY.

  • 12. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Marry me, Linda!! 🙂

    As I read the excerpt from O's speech above I remembered why I fought for him. THEN I was faced again with my disappointment. How can he say such beautiful, strengthening and hopeful words and, at the same time, be so ambivalent to our plight?

    Then I thought: All the world's a stage. He is strutting and fretting for his hour.

    It makes me sick to hear such warmth only then to be given so cold a shoulder.

    I had hope for his change, but in the end – it was proven to be nothing but Sound and Fury.

  • 13. grod  |  September 14, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    @bJason 5:21 pm
    Politics: the art of the possible at a moment in time.
    Consider the alternative.

  • 14. Ed  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Linda,
    There is a strong part of me that feels exactly as you do- little patience with Barack Obama. There is another part that recognizes that the $100 million dollars that the Koch brothers have spent to fund the Tea Party movement is distorting the national dialogue to the extent that the President is attacked for anything progressive he says or does.
    The important thing for me is that Obama's words have pushed me toward speaking my own mind more honestly- si se puede!- and I will hold myself responsible for courage in my life actions and in my words as well. So I guess I am not a politician but I am committed to living more honestly and speaking more honestly, still believing in the community that Obama described, even if the national flame throwing slows the process of honest speech and change that results from it. Please keep your courage and hang on to all the warm feelings that Obama inspired in you- those are legitimate feelings in response to your values- he helped you feel them, but they are yours and no one can take those away from you. Nor will I allow any wealthy right wing nut to take that away from me either. Si se puede~

  • 15. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Ed,

    OBama said and did those "hopey, changey" things (BTW – I hate Palin) a couple of years ago. He's done nothing of substance since. Peddle your wares elsewhere. I'm not buying anymore.

  • 16. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    It is clearly election season. I guess we will have to deal with the "BOTs" here, too.

  • 17. Wolfinlv  |  September 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    It is always election season there is always people who will attack you for doing what ever it is you do. If you go right they attack if you go left they attack. But if you promise something you should do your utmost to do it. If you say you will be for GLBTQIA rights then you should do your utmost to do so. Lincoln was attacked for what he did but I do believe it was he who said "you can not please all the people all the time" At times, especially as president for ALL people, one will have to make the hard decision that may not get you re-elected it may even get you shot but you do it and don't look back because you know in your heart it is the right thing to do.

  • 18. Sheryl Carver  |  September 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Sarah's "hopey, changey" comment was probably the only thing she's ever said that I agreed with.

    Obama was great with with speechifying, but has been quite disrespectful in his actions. Starting with inviting that anti-gay preacher, Rich Warren, to his inauguration. It's been pretty much downhill since then.

    I think one of the NY Democrats who opposed marriage equality was just defeated in the State Senate primary election. I know it's a relatively small thing, but perhaps some of our less-than-fierce advocates who want to win or retain state or federal seats will take notice that we are MAD AS HELL & NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!

    It's been "not the right time" for too damn many decades!

  • 19. Sheryl Carver  |  September 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Need "edit" feature – that's "with the" not "with with" & "Rick Warren" not "Rich Warren"

  • 20. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:14 am

    When is this going to end? When are the folks like NOM, FotF, ADF, WBC, and the others of their ilk going to get over themselves and realize that if they truly want to protect the children, the first thing they need to do is get behind a zero tolerance measure that will stop the bullying, and it needs to be a measure that can be applied EVERYWHERE, not just at the schools, but on the bus, in the streets, everywhere!

  • 21. Shannon  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Are you kidding? These groups will NEVER get over themselves because all they do is bully others. Their hearts and minds are not open enough to consider that they might be hurting anyone.

  • 22. nightshayde  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Especially because they seem to believe that if the kids simply would choose not to be gay, there would be no reason for those poor misunderstood bullies to pick on them.

  • 23. Alan E.  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

    And when one group is not the "in" group to bully, they will find some other people. It's a superiority/inferiority complex.

  • 24. Rhie  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:53 am

    As a group, I agree. As individuals, who are simply blinded by their leaders, I don't agree. I think we can convince on at a time.

    For example: My mother, who watches Fox and reads Drudge, had NO IDEA of this kind of thing or that it was a real epidemic. Once I told her, though, and assured her that pastors were not subject to arrest under such laws (!), she saw the wisdom of such law.

  • 25. AndrewPDX  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

    @Alan…<cite>And when one group is not the “in” group to bully, they will find some other people. It’s a superiority/inferiority complex.</cite>

    Are we talking about high school students, or NOM and FotF? Or is it 'once a bully, always a bully'?

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Andrew

  • 26. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

    @ AndrewPDX

    I am convinced that the NOMbies were bullied in their time and are now proving that pay back is a bitch.

  • 27. Lee  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:21 am

    With you 100%, Richard.

  • 28. BradK  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:15 am

    "The happiest days of our lives"?

    No, not really. Not for all of us.

    R.I.P. Billy. Hope that you find some peace.

  • 29. Joel  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Did anybody notice how, in his last sentence, President Obama omits any reference to sexual orientation? I'm sorry, but in light of his current record on the matter of GLBT rights, I find that to be a tacit admission that, while it is wrong to bully based on race or disability, it's perfectly alright to torment someone who is different based on sexual orientation. Shame on you, Mr. Obama!

  • 30. nightshayde  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Since sexual orientation is a significant part of "who you are," I think it was covered. He didn't specifically call out any one distinguishing characteristic (gender, ethnicity, orientation, religion, hair color, economic status, etc…) — it was just enough to say we should embrace the things that make us unique.

  • 31. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

    He mentioned us often enough when he was stumping for our money and votes. That he did not mention us today sends a pretty clear signal to me!

  • 32. steve  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Given the sensitivities of the audience (or more precisely, the parents of the audience), I'm not concerned about the lack of mention / very careful phrasing.

    Last year, there were lots of schools that refused to show his speech or required opt-in from parents. A speech that's heard is much better than one that's ignored.

  • 33. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    True, I guess.

    I am tired of speeches and want to see action.

    I know that may be too much to ask in this day and age.

    Keep stumpin', Steve.

  • 34. Richard W. Fitch  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

    This hits close to home – literally. When I was working for an Indianapolis firm that sold turn-key accounting systems, two of the clients I serviced were in Greensburg. It's a typical small Midwestern community – both in the good and bad ways. My heart goes out to the family of this young. A life has been cut short by the insensitivity and cruelty and lack of attention by those who surrounded him.

  • 35. Don in Texas  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Please read Bill's Story.

    Although Bill died many years ago, his story should give each of us a renewed determination to fight discrimination and bullying in our own lives.

  • 36. Straight Grandmother  |  September 15, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Don I read it last time you psoted it, and you are right is is relaly sad. How many more do we have to loose before change happens?

  • 37. ellen  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:23 am

    "We shouldn’t be embarrassed by the things that make us different. We should be proud of them. "

    Oh, I see, it's so obvious! the solution to bullying is to "not be embarrassed" for being different… never mind all those people who are telling you "you don't deserve to live" and doing their level best to embarrass you & make you miserable… if you're embarrassed it's your fault and you are the one who has to overcome that without support from the school administration or whoever.

    Fuck that noise. How about some advocacy of "recognizing & supporting other people and not fucking bullying them / institutionally accepting bullying?"

    It may be that "the strength and character of this country have always come from our ability to recognize ourselves in one another", but a little acknowledgment of how much it can hurt when people don't have that ability–or choose not to use it–would come off a lot nicer.

    Direct link to the speech text, btw: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/09/14/preside

  • 38. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:39 am

    EFFING A, ellen!!

    When do people start saying "hey, you fucking loser-ass bullies, watch what you do because we're coming for you!"?

    It has to stop! Enough with the sweet, simpering "this was a tragedy" shit! TELL THEM WE ARE COMING AFTER THEM IF THEY DON'T STOP!! TELL THE PEOPLE IN AUTHORITY OVER THIS THAT WE WILL COME AFTER THEM IF THEY DON'T STOP IT!

    No more "blind-eye", boo-hoo, "think about the children" bullshit!!

    IT HAS TO STOP

  • 39. Rhie  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:59 am

    If they were really thinking of the children, this would have been handled a long time ago.

  • 40. Bob  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:07 am

    @bJason, IT HAS TO STOP in our generation IT HAS TO STOP.

    that's our CALL you make a great prophet, now we just need to get the people down on their knees to repent for this behavior, and make sure it doesn't happen again

    BULLYING HAS TO SOP IN THIS GENERATION

  • 41. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

    @ Bob

    They will never repent. The "bully psyche" cannot be reasoned with. They only understand their own.

    Let them know:
    1. the adults who let this happen will be PUNISHED
    2. the perpetrators WILL BE PUNISHED
    3. if the law won't do these things, those of us who are watching will!!

    I am not a vigilante but this shit is beyond the pale!

    I speak for no one else but I WILL COME AFTER YOU!!!

  • 42. Sagesse  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:28 am

    So sad. This is really why we have to protect the children.

  • 43. Billy  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:34 am

    This angers me so much. Greensburg is about 1 1/2 hours away from me, and I know first-hand how schools completely ignore bullying when a glbt teen is involved. When I was his age, I suffered repeated death threats on the school bus, and when I went to the principal for help, his solution? I should drive myself to school, instead. He never punished the bullies. His words, "Would you want me to suspend them? When they come back, they'll just do it again… Just drive yourself to school, and avoid conflict."

    … And this was in 1997. As you can see, 13 years later, not a damn thing has changed, and in my opinion, has actually gotten worse. You know there's a problem when we have to have a NATIONAL debate over bullying in our public schools; that they have become so feral and unruly for the citizens to stand up and plead the government to step in and stop it.

    Focus on the Family, with their rhetoric… this young man and many more just like him, YOU have their blood on your hands Focus on the Family. It is because of you and every group like you that so many young people commit suicide every year. The reason this story pisses me off so much, is because this could have easily been me 13 years ago.

  • 44. Rhie  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Ugh no I want principals to expel those idiots. I want cops to investigate them on grounds of harrassment and stalking (both illegal if it's adult). I want the same standard applied to children in protection that adults have.

  • 45. Ed  |  September 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    hey billy, where are u in indiana? I'm in South bend.

  • 46. Billy  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I live in Eaton OH, but also lived in Richmond IN for a while.

  • 47. Billy  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    You could always add me on facebook. I'm on the P8TT facebook group (I'm Billy R.). Make sure that if you do though, you send me a message. I currently have like 300+ friend invites I haven't checked yet … silly facebook games :p

  • 48. Bennett  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

    While we have fun sometimes snarking at NOM sometimes, this is not a fun issue. This is a deadly serious issue as we see in this unwelcome reminder. Many of you no doubt understand what has happened here, but we will soon have the experts enlighten us (no doubt how bullying and marriage are different issues and bullying can be adresssed, but yada).

    Well I think an appropriate response is "shut the fuck up!"
    Which is a polite way of getting the larger point across which is "fuckyouupanddown inandout frontandrear youbastard pieceofshit fried. (heard that somewhere and thought it was appropriate.)

  • 49. Sagesse  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

    There was a time when my son was small that he was being bullied at school. There were three kids in the class, and they called the three mothers in to talk about it. They talked to us about how we could advise our sons how to respond. At one point I asked why the mother of the bully wasn't in the room. What they wanted to do was teach the kids 'how to be better victims', rather than teach the bully to treat others with respect. They didn't want/have the mandate to confront the bully and his parents directly. (My son took up martial arts when he was nine, and the unplanned result was that he gave off an air of confidence, so the bullies moved on to easier targets).

    We need to be aware of these official responses when kids are being harassed.

  • 50. Fulton  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

    yeah…I see that pattern all the time.
    When Lawrence King died, some even in the gay press asked if Larry could have been less flamboyant.

    It's weird…we had to re-educate people to know that a woman in a skirt does not ask to be assaulted.

    Now, we have to re-educate people that kids are not responsible for their bullies.

    Rather than focus on the anti-social behavior of the bully, they focus on the behavior of the victim.

    Didn't we already work that one out?

  • 51. Rhie  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Have to still educate people that women in a certain style of clothing or at a bar or who has had alcohol or in a boy's dorm room or walking alone at night or trying to get into her car or at a sports event or…doesn't deserve to be assaulted.

  • 52. Bob  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Sagesse, your son is a very fortunate child, he has a wise and loving mother,

    we need to figure a way to spread you around, maybe a mix of all those great mothers on here, blend em together, and spread em out , so those poor kids who don't have none , can reap the benefits too.

    it really is about ignorance on the parents part, for putting their beliefs in something other than pure motherly love and affection,

    how can we change things so we could value and quantify motherly love, and make sure each child gets to experience it.

    definetly those little bullies don't have it,

  • 53. Bennett  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Maggie, you are an enabler, your are individually responsible for this and together with all of the other enablers. You should be so ashamed.

  • 54. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Amen!

    NOM, FotF, etc. this precious child's BLOOD is on your hands!!!

  • 55. Straight Grandmother  |  September 15, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Yes, true very very true, where do you think the kids learn this from, from YOU, NOM FotF, Family Research Council etc.

  • 56. JonT  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Maggie, you are an enabler, your are individually responsible for this and together with all of the other enablers.

    I second that. As long as organizations and people like Mrs. Raman Srivastav can spew their thinly veiled hatred with impunity, more tragedies like this are going to occur.

  • 57. Billy  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Also, wanna know what else is shady (and absolute proof that the teachers/principal are totally complacent in this bullying? Just listen what the principal is quoted as saying in the article, and what he says at about 2:06 in the video with the news story…

    Interview: "Principal Phil Chapple said he knew students were being bullied – but he was “not aware of that situation” with Billy, Chapple told Fox."
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp3qlx1D_bA

    Video: "Sometimes he created an atmosphere around him, kinda like a little tornado, you know, because he went around doing things that, you know, made… made… made dust fly, I guess."

    You knew. You could have asked his teachers what was going on, you could have stayed out in the hallway just a few minutes in between classes to see what your students are doing, you could have done any number of things. But, you chose to do nothing. And now, a student is dead, and we don't care how well you try to cover your ass; we just want assurances that you'll DO SOMETHING next time, you ineffectual piece of !@#$.

  • 58. Anonygrl  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The principal would rather blame the victim than make an effort to have some control in his own school.

    I hope he loses his job and any pension for this.

  • 59. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

    To be honest with you, I hope somebody does to him what they did to Billy. Let the principal find out how it feels to be bullied for no other reason than being yourself, and not lying about who you were born to be.

  • 60. Rhie  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:01 am

    There are times – and this is one of them – that I want teachers and principals who knew bullying took place but did nothing to be charged with manslaughter if a death occurs, as accomplices after the fact if any kind of bodily harm occurs. Maybe if their own life and liberty is at stake the will do something.

  • 61. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

    My thoughts exactly. There should be a law. AND parents of the children who commit these crimes should serve equal sentences.

    This is abhorrent!!

  • 62. JonT  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Yes, obviously Billy was totally asking for it. If only he would have conformed to a proper judeo-christian male role.

    /sarcasm

    I think that principle needs a good ass kicking.

  • 63. Rhie  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Hey Principal.

    You knew – you just said so – that violence against LGBT students is a big problem. Yet you did nothing. This makes you complicit. There are no words strong enough to express my loathing.

  • 64. Ray in MA  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

    We would never had heard a speech like that from Bush.

    At least we now have a prez who shows some compassion.

    He did make a reference to us:

    ============

    …if you take away one thing from my speech, I want you to take away the notion that life is precious, and part of what makes it so wonderful is its diversity, that all of us are different. And we shouldn’t be embarrassed by the things that make us different. We should be proud of them, because it’s the thing that makes us different that makes us who we are, that makes us unique. And the strength and character of this country has always come from our ability to recognize — no matter who we are, no matter where we come from, no matter what we look like, no matter what abilities we have — to recognize ourselves in each other.

    ==========

    I'm sure the kids who needed to hear something for themselves personally, heard that.

    Thank you President Obama for speaking up.

    R.I.P. Billy.

  • 65. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I'm going to have to disagree with you here, Ray.

    O. said that those of us who are different should be proud. Well, those of us who are different are not the problem. It is those of us who bully those who are different who are the problem.

    What the kids needed to hear was "hey, bullies, we are coming after you!!!" He didn't say that. What he said, in effect, was "be proud – and take your beating". He offered no help.

    We aren't talking about Bush. We are not apologizing for O. anymore, either.

    Yes, R.I.P. Billy. BUT, make no mistake, O. DID NOT speak up for anyone!!!

  • 66. Ray in MA  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I admire your copassion about Billy and bullying.

    Please tell us what you do/have done to address this specific issue.

    Obama is in a different place than us. Consider his audience here and consider his position. He is not your Daddy and can't fix things to make your world nice and happy. People are idiots, and no matter what he says, it aint gonna change them.

  • 67. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I'll be glad to tell you what I have done (NOT being the POTUS) on this issue if you will first explain how O,'s nice words to "kids who needed to hear something for themselves personally" can take what O. said and use it ward off the bullies. Or how they can use his speech to make their parents, teachers and guardians recognize and end the torment that they receive.

    That you imply my need for a daddy who makes my world nice and happy is insulting to the extreme.

    My world is fine. The world of these children is not, And pretty words to help them love themselves won't change the treatment they receive from some rat-bastard bully.

    Please tell us, Ray, what YOU have done aside from give lip service to a president who does not support us and takes no clear stand to end this madness.

  • 68. Ray in MA  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    bJason:

    Nothing. I've done absolutely nothing. (and I've been a victim when I was a teenager, and I am still a victim at 53 years old) But I'm not going to blame someone else (like Obama) for not fixiing it.

    You act like this is a new phenomenon. It has been going on for decades and decades. If you think one President can have an impact with one speech, you need to take a reality pill.

  • 69. Wolfinlv  |  September 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Ray in MA,
    The fact that you are 53 years old and state you have done nothing is just crime. I'm 10 years junior to you and was tormented just as bad to I call myself a victim no am I a victim still oh no. Have I done things oh you betcha I have. Every time I hear someone say "that's so gay" I look at them with anger in my eyes and say "I'm gay" I did that to a manager of mine and she backed right down and appologized and NEVER used that terminology again and taught her kids to never use it either.
    I've stuck up for kids when I'm in range of the hatred and frankly have kicked people out of the store I work at because they said fag. I looked at them and said in my best southern drawl (which is an indicator of my ire) "you, sir, need to get out of my store now" And was backed up by several heterosexual people.

    No we don't act like it's a new phenomenon, we are acting like we are finally done with the platitudes and the harrasement. We are acting like we to quote the venacular "finally grew a set". We are acting like you (meaning the bullies and those who say it's always been this way so it shall always be) have finally pushed a bit to hard… Just like the quarterback of my highschool football team found out when he picked me up and pushed me against the lockers… You see my mother taught me there is no fair fight – WIN. I reached down while he was angrily snarling in my face and sunk my fingernails into his testicles until he was on his knees in front of me and I said "NO you will not do this again".

    So no Ray in MA, we do not act like we want daddy to fix everything we act like the Employer of a man to whom WE gave power to fix these things and he has done diddly squat to do it. We are dissatisfied with his job performance and are telling him so.

  • 70. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    @wolf
    I couldn't have said it any better. 🙂

  • 71. Bob  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:18 am

    @Ray in MA, yup, those words speak to us, and we know it, but, it's Obama skirting the issue,

    Principles and teachers skirt the issue, wrapping it in a frilly pragraph like that, well shucks we're all the same, isn't that nice.

    I know his speach was not in reply to the most recent tragedy, or to any of the tragedies (deaths) that occured during the time we've been indulging in discussing these isssues, I'm wondering if we did an actual count , just deaaths, I always remember little Roy, killed, and the three suicides I remember in Minn school, then Billy, maybe we should do an actual count, cause I think it may be actualy shocking to us too. Not to mention those who are thinking about it, and spiritually abused in their present living conditions by Cino's.

    It's simply not good enough, Mr. O needs to be confronted with statistics, and he needs to stand up for ending discrimination against LGBT children in our schools, use the words. Mr. O

  • 72. Ray in MA  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Well let him start by bringing in all the principals in the country in a big room and have him scold them until they break down.

    Then he can bring in all the bullies and whoop their butts.

    Come on! this is human nature and been going on for who knows how long. A sitting president can turn blue in the face trying to impact this and it aint gonna change things… anymore than you can change the iditos at NOM.

    It starts with you an me, not the President. Grow up, he's not our Daddy.

  • 73. Bob  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:33 am

    @Ray in Ma, okay time for a little break here, time out, take a breather,

    you're saying the President is not in a position to affect change, we shouldn't expect that from him,

    people are idiots and no matter what he says, it ain't gonna change them,

    really, wow, no sense trying to make the world a better place, guess we should all just go home now.

    you words are a reality for us , Billy is the proof, but hey, a commander in chief has the ability to influence change, he has power, and when he accepted that place of power, he assumed responsiblity as daddy for every liitle child in his country, he expanded his parental duties beyond his own two children, he acceped the responsiblity for Billy too.

  • 74. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:56 am

    FANNED @ Bob!

    You, too. saw the fly in Ray's ointment.

  • 75. Ray in MA  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Bob,

    Yes, a commander in chief has the ability to influence change but one must know when to step near the edge and know when not to step over the edge. If he steps over the edge we could end up with a commder in chief of the likes of George W. Bush again. We would not be better off.

  • 76. Rae  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:37 am

    How can we stop the bullying in schools??? It is a National problem and we as adults are not taking care of our children, we are not showing them we can rotect them. anyone have any ideas of what we can do to get the schools to stop this???

  • 77. Rae  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:37 am

    How can we stop the bullying in schools??? It is a National problem and we as adults are not taking care of our children, we are not showing them we can PROTECT them. anyone have any ideas of what we can do to get the schools to stop this???

  • 78. nightshayde  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:47 am

    One thing we need to do whenever and wherever the matter comes up is to fight back against the "boys will be boys," or "there have always been bullies" comments — the comments that equate to "we can't expect kids to behave like civilized people."

    The fact that something has "always been" a certain way doesn't mean that the certain way is acceptable. "Because it's always been done that way" is not a justifiable reason for allowing unacceptable behavior to continue.

    We need to stop letting people blame the victims. Instead, we should be holding the bullies accountable for their actions — and should be holding the adults who turn a blind eye to such behavior accountable as well.

  • 79. nightshayde  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Something else just occurred to me. We have to figure out where the line between "don't be a tattletale" and "speak up when you see injustice being done" is.

    As the mother of a first-grader, I can tell you that's not as easy a task as you might think it is. This past spring, when DD was in kindergarten, she said something about not wanting to tell on someone for picking on another kid because she didn't want the mean kid to be mad at her (since the mean kid hadn't been mean to her). I told her that if she sees the mean kid (or any other kid) being physically abusive toward someone, she needs to tell an adult immediately. I also told her that if she hears a mean kid saying things that might hurt another kid's feelings, she should probably find out if the kid's feelings really were hurt before she says anything — and that it might be best to just be supportive of the kid who's being picked on (since sometimes knowing you're not alone is a big weapon in fighting back).

    I don't want her telling on kids for every little rule infraction if something really isn't a big deal (like cutting in line at the drinking fountain or running when you're supposed to be walking) — but I don't want her to see someone being bullied & do nothing.

  • 80. Rae  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Totally agree with you!

  • 81. nightshayde  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    One other thing we can do (which we're clearly already trying to do – at least those of us who are passionate about equality) is teach our children that it's really truly ok to be GLBT.

    When I was being called a lesbian in junior high, I wasn't deeply affected — largely because I knew that I wasn't & that the kids making fun of me were just plain wrong — but also because I didn't take being called lesbian as an insult since I didn't/don't think there's anything wrong with being a lesbian. In my head, someone calling me a lesbian was pretty much the same as being called a blonde (which would have also been incorrect).

    If I had thought there was something wrong with being a lesbian, it would have made it much more problematic to be called a lesbian. The kids who were calling me that were annoying just because they wouldn't let it go — not because their words were particularly hateful to me.

  • 82. Susan R Barnes  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:12 am

    @nightshade – "teach our children that it's really truly ok to be LGBT"

    Spot on. That is what this is all about, in a nutshell.

    All the folks at NOM, Focus on the Family, etc. know this. Parents of bullies know this, homophobic bigots and all the scripture spewing pseudo-Christian Thumpers who helped pass Prop 8 know this as well.

    All these people fight against a terrifying and inevitable future where their children will (Gasp!) learn that it is ok for people to be GLBT, that this knowledge might actually become part of mainstream thinking, and that they will be exposed for being on the wrong side of history as the prejudiced bigots that they are.

    Yes, let us all teach our children that it is ok to be LGBT.

  • 83. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Here in our house we re doing just that. BZ's adult children grew up knowing he is gay, and our grandchildren see us together, and know that we have the same concerns as any other couple. This is the message that needs to get out there in the public eye in any manner of getting it out there that we can utilize, but mostly through our everyday lives.

  • 84. Rhie  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Susan —

    Your comment reminds me…I remember stuff on Sesame Street about a family being more than just a mother and a father. My boyfriend told me about this series from the 70s called Free to Be You and Me.

    Why don't we still have that stuff around? Or, if we do, why isn't as well known? Yea they were kind of silly but the messages stuck.

    I see The More You Know and CBS Cares and I'm a Character spots on TV but they are weak, frankly. I am considering lobbying NBC, CBS and USA to include outspoken LGBTs and the issue of teen suicide in their spots. Millions see those…perhaps 30 seconds of "It's OK! You are WONDERFUL the way you are!" will be enough to save a life.

  • 85. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 15, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Free to Be…You and Me. Marlo Thomas. Danny Thomas' daughter. I think it is available on DVD by now, but will have to Google it and find out.

  • 86. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:44 am

    This is so very sad. Not much makes me angry…this does on so many levels. Obviously these children are not getting proper parenting. CPS needs to look into each child that did the bullying's life. Find out where it came from, why it happened and pull each child from a home of abuse, mental default and just uncaring parents. Until we take a stand and get these kids the help they need, this will happen again and again.

    Parents need to be held accountable for their child's stupidity.

  • 87. nightshayde  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Of course, if the parents' religious beliefs & teachings are at fault, that will be tricky.

  • 88. Kate  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Yep. Don't forget the "Kill A Queer for Christ" bunch from several years ago.

  • 89. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Which one–WBC, Fotf, ADF, FRC, NARTH, or Exodus International? There have been so many of them.

  • 90. Rhie  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Richard – that's what makes this so tricky. None of us want to see the 1st Amendment weakened. It could just as easily backfire and hurt those who are being bullied for religion – see: Muslims – as much as it protects LGBT who are being bullied because of religious reasons.

    What we need to do and what the law needs to do is disentangle messages of hate from the messages of teh religion. This takes subtlety and intelligence that I fear is lacking from those who could do that.

  • 91. Rae  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    NEGLIGENCE: Failure to use reasonable care. The doing of something which a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the failure to do something which a reasonably prudent person would do under like circumstances.
    * We all know this exists, we are all responsible for making a difference in all our childrens lives, after all, we are the "Prudent" adults that they look up to because we have the wisdom.
    We need to get into each school and talk about it and determine how each school will be proactive in conversation with kids, have forums for parents to attend and be responsible parents and have conversations to form ways to put a stop and hold those accountable for bullying……………………..NO MORE LIVES NEED TO BE LOST….we cannot afford to turn away and face it and fight it……..

  • 92. Bob  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

    @Rae, well put, this is a National problem for the U.S., but it is also a global problem,

    I recall the United Nations Conference on Childrens Rights, I wonder what level of importance it recieves there, I do know that the U.S. is one of two countries that has not signed on to that agreement, maybe it could be pushed on that level.

    Reason the U.S. wouldn't ratify the agreement, is cause it makes them accountable to the U.N. for their standing on children's rights, and they fail miserably for such a presumably wealthy country.

    Also it's interesting to take note of president O's speach, he's pitching it to get votes and money from the religious right, and mentioning LGBT issues wouldn't help that cause, again we're the football, those wealthy Cino's only reward the politicians who don't mention us, outright.

    The U.S. can't ratify with the U.N. cause it isa threat to theocracy.

  • 93. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:13 am

    This infuriates me. I am blind with rage.

    Recently, my sister told me that her son (my first nephew and Godson) was being bullied.

    Long story short –

    I went to the principle and told her that if she did not make the bullying stop I would come for her.

    I found the kid and told him that if he didn't stop being a bully, I would come for him.

    When the proper adults can't/won't do their jobs – we step in.

    THIS HAS TO STOP.

  • 94. nightshayde  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

    My mother did that for me in junior high. I was a skinny scrawny glasses-wearing smarter-than-the-average-bear kid & was used to getting picked on (kids in elementary school called me "Clark Kent" because of my glasses). In junior high, some people started calling my best friend and me lesbians & giving us a really hard time about it (which I had pretty much forgotten until this discussion started today). No physical violence or anything — just a lot of verbal garbage.

    One of the kids who was particularly nasty was a much bigger, very tough-looking girl (not a skinny scrawny glasses-wearing little Jewish girl like me). When Mom finally pried out of me what was going on (I think Lisa had threatened to kick my ass for some imagined slight), she got really mad — had me point Lisa out to her… and went storming over to her one day after school. She used her best authoritarian schoolteacher voice & really told Lisa off — explained that my father worked with the police department (he was a crossing guard who contracted with LAPD — but she didn't have to know that), and that she'd have some of his cop buddies (who were non-existent) make life hell for her if she kept picking on me. She never picked on me again.

    Other kids kept up with the "lesbo" taunts. I guess I never totally internalized that taunting since I knew I wasn't a lesbian. I just figured the kids were being idiots. Oddly enough, the taunting stopped when I told them one day that I really was a lesbian and that the fact that they kept making fun of me for being what I was really seemed dumb.

    Coincidentally, I just found out that my alleged lesbian partner from those long-ago-days just had a baby a few days ago. =) I'm fairly certain she's bisexual, though I don't know that for sure. I do know she's pro-equality, though — and that her little girl will be brought up to be pro-equality as well.

  • 95. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Good for you and even better for your mom!

    Skinny, scrawny, glasses-wearing kids RULE!!!

    I'll see to it!

    <3 Jason

  • 96. nightshayde  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I was pretty sure Lisa was going to knock her out. Lisa was a tall, muscular girl — and Mom was a 40-something plump vertically-challenged woman back then (now a 72-year old plump vertically-challenged woman).

    It's amazing how much attention a schoolteacher tone of voice can command.

  • 97. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:28 am

    What does 'I'll come for him" mean?
    Sounds very threatening and borderline illegal actually….
    Can you clarify what it is you mean by those words?

  • 98. Ray in MA  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:48 am

    This goes on and on… Don in Texas showed us another Bil; from the 90's.

    More recently:
    http://www.queerty.com/teenager-justin-aaberg-kil

    based on the stats, there are hundreds or stories like this that people don't hear about…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXqocdThk8s

  • 99. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I'm confused. You post this video yet talk about how O. said great things BUT is not our daddy and… and….

    You make my head spin.

    What, in your mind, should we do?

  • 100. Ray in MA  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    First, I did not use the word 'great'.
    I said he "included" us. (Others commented he said nothing.)

    Second, if you want something done, do it yourself, don't expect anyone to do it for you.

    Third, don't blame someone for NOT doing something until you have walked in their shoes.

    This is a serious scary issue. It can't be solved by our debate here. We can only show our disdain and disgust and fright here.

    It will take hundreds and thousands of us going forward for many many years showing people that this is wrong. You can't TELL people something is wrong, you have to show them.

    This YouTube starts out slow, but this guy has a critical message:

    "One Dead Gay Boy"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drWwq3Czh4s

  • 101. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 14, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pG13umiebw

  • 102. Breaking the Silence  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:43 am

    In case anyone is not familiar with what's going on in Justin Aaberg's school district/town:
    http://minnesotaindependent.com/64047/anti-gay-gr

    Not that we should be surprised… But some of the people up there deserve all the disgust they have coming.

  • 103. Phil L  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I honestly hope that this tragedy forever haunts those who bullied him and those who allowed it (those authority figures who looked away).

  • 104. Gregory in SLC  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Another memorable video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeM9w3L4H6I

    and a plea to parents and family to accept their gay teens:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?stor

  • 105. Gregory in SLC  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Thought video would embed….it is Ellen speaking about the 15 year old who was killed by other 15 year old….she is trying to get message out to all "its ok to be gay"

    The NPR story talks about "Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts…" In the Mormon church the suicide rate is abnormally high even for the this group…they are taught they will miss out being with their eternal family so they lose hope and take their life. *big sigh and frown 🙁

    If we can all reach out to educate those around us to how prejudice affects these kids maybe we can save one life or more along the way.

    Big Hugs to you Billy Lucas and your family wherever you are.

  • 106. Bob  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    gottcha Ray, this is just a normal part of life, some of us just choose to shorten our stay on the planet, and here we're only talking about children, don't forget all the adults and seniors who choose to end their lives. it's a choice.

    they could have made a different one,

    is there any benefit to wondering why, or even researching this behavior, of course it also assumes that they were totally functioning mentally and capable of making such a choice. I think that's the sticker, cause most research psychiatrically into the behavior indicates that at the time they see no other solution to what is a mental dilema, that makes taking the next step unbearable, what does that say about us as a culture.

    Sometimes I wonder, who is the smarter, if what you say is true, and there's no point trying to convince anyone that maybe we could make the life experience on this planet enjoyable enough to engage you in life and choose to stick around. perhaps they are the wiser, take a look around, and say that's it for me, I'm out of here, not worth the effort.

    And of course we're too busy blowing up people in other countries, and hating on each other to even waste any resources or energy on this particular issue, which really only is one if it's put in your face. I mean we can all go on an be happy and have fun, minus a Billy or a Susie here or there silly kids, just chose not to stand up for themselves.

    WOW

  • 107. bJason  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Loving on you right now, Bob!!

    <<>>

  • 108. Ray in MA  |  September 14, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Keyword: "convince".

    As I said in another comment, with most people, you can't TELL them HOW or WHAT to think, you have to SHOW them by example. (which is the hard part of all this)

    Children learn by example.

    Teenagers are testing the beliefs they learned by example from adults. (that gay bashing is OK)

    Most adults are stubborn in their ways, beyond changing their beliefs.

  • 109. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp3qlx1D_bA

  • 110. Lora  |  September 14, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I'm disgusted by the principal at this school. He is blaming Billy for getting bullied! It's a lie that teachers and those in authority didn't know what was going on…students would threaten him in class!!
    What will it take for things like this to STOP?!?!
    Jesus…H..

  • 111. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:44 am

    It will take all of us standing up not only to the bullies and holding the bullies accountable, but also standing up to the faculty, staff, and administrators at our schools and letting them know that we will hold them accountable as well.

  • 112. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 14, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    This video was posted on July 9, 2010, and only one view (mine?)…It's a good 'don't bully' video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNK3wJ3G6dk

  • 113. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:35 am

    Thanks, LLB. And for those who haven't heard this version yet, the version of "Don't Laugh at Me" in the video is the one by Mark Wills that I referred to previously. Wonderful song for all anti-bullying campaigns, whether the PP&M version or this one.

  • 114. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Slightly OT but as long as we're posting video, someone sent me this link to a debate where Stephen Fry takes apart the Catholic Church for its egregious offenses throughout history, specifically noting its obsession with sex and how the CC calling him (a gay man) a "pervert" is twisting the truth, and how their persecution of gays leads to bullying and teen suicide:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbvr0m_shortfilm

  • 115. Rhie  |  September 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the video! Stephen Fry is truly an inspiration. You know he has a book out now?

  • 116. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:51 am

    Actually, Elizabeth, this is not off topic. This is a video that goes to the root causes of 95% of the bullying, and that bullying does not stop in school. It happens in the mall, it happens at the library, it happens in the park. And it does not stop when the bully graduates or drops out of school.

  • 117. JonT  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:17 am

    An excellent video… I saw this some time ago when it was posted to another thread here. Well worth the 19 minutes 🙂

  • 118. Jonathan H  |  September 14, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    All I know of Billy Lucas is that he was bullied in school and took his own life at the age of 15 by hanging himself in the barn. After his death the school principal claimed he was aware of bullying but did not know what was going on.

    I don't know if Billy Lucas was gay or straight or something else entirely. It does not matter.
    I do not know what religion Billy Lucas was raised in, nor what he believed personally. It is irrelevant.
    I don't know what sports Billy Lucas liked, or what fiction he enjoyed. Who cares, now?
    I do not know what sort of mental illness, if any, Billy Lucas may have had. It no longer matters.

    What I know is that he did not have to die that way. Whatever was happening that he felt a need to take his own life over, it could have been avoided. Whether by his parents, school administrators, friends, or the local thugs. Whatever was going on in his life it could have been dealt with, or at least addressed.

    For this to progress as far as it did, everybody in his life had to let Billy Lucas down. There is no law that can prevent this, no statute to keep it from happening. To stop things like this, we have to change the way people see each other, starting from a very young age.

    We must not only be better than our parents, but willing to teach our children to be better than us. I wonder if we can stand it.

  • 119. Michael  |  September 14, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Suicide. One of the new "values" promoted by pro-bullying, anti-gay pressure groups like AFA, TVC, FRC, CWA and many false prophet "church" leaders.

  • 120. AndrewPDX  |  September 15, 2010 at 12:18 am

    OT, but I saw this news blurb about a new study being published today called "Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definition of Family".

    So far the best article I've seen online about it is from the Deseret News. If anybody sees a better article, please let me know.

    Some interesting excerpts:
    <cite>…a significant shift toward counting same-sex couples with children as family — from 54 percent … in 2003 to 68 percent in 2010.</cite>

    <cite>[I]n 2006, when asked if gay couples and pets count as family, 30 percent said pets count but not gay couples…"The sheer idea that gay couples are given less status than pets should give us pause."</cite>

    <cite>"We envisage a day in the near future when same-sex families also will gain acceptance by a large plurality of the public,"</cite>

    And then my favorite:
    Glenn Stanton, director of family formation studies for Focus on the Family said. <cite>"This whole issue has boiled down to, 'Are you a bigot or not?'"</cite> I would love to hear his answer to that question. 🙂

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Andrew

  • 121. Straight Grandmother  |  September 15, 2010 at 1:58 am

    "Glenn Stanton, director of family formation studies for Focus on the Family said. “This whole issue has boiled down to, ‘Are you a bigot or not?’” I would love to hear his answer to that question. :)"

    YES! they are ALL Bigots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Brian Brown President of NOM is a Bigot and hater
    Brian S Brown President of the National Organization for Marriage is a Bigot and a hater.
    Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, NOM is a Bigot and a Hater.

    Their national campaigns, and all the others, Focus on The family, The Family Research Council, The leadership fo the Catholic Church, The Leadership fof the Mormons, The Leadership of the Baptists, and perhaps the Biggest of all Lou Engels, ALL of them are the start of ….Trickle Down.

    The intolerance, the calling out of gays lesbians bi-sexual and transgender people as being "less than" as being "Not Good Enough" trickles down thoughout society and young glbt teenagers and even older, kill themselves because of it. The bllod of these innocent young people is on their hands.

  • 122. aaron  |  September 15, 2010 at 1:21 am

    I cried at work when I read that text of Obama's speech. If only I could have heard something like that when I was a kid!

  • 123. Franck  |  September 15, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Off-topic but extremely important to all bi-national same-gender couples and their supporters out there:

    (copy-paste from an e-mail sent by Kathy @ Out4Immigration)

    Yesterday it was reported that Sen. Harry Reid will be adding the DREAM Act to the Defense Authorization Bill (DAB) next week. The DAB will also include the Don't Ask, Don' Tell repeal amendment.

    If LGBT related and immigration related amendments are being added, why not UAFA, too? Please call Senator Reid's DC office today and ask him to attach the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA; S. 424) to the DAB bill.

    Sen. Reid's DC office: (202) 224-3542

    At the very least lets use this to re-awaken our fighting spirit to get UAFA passed this year! Yesterday we added 4 more co-sponsors in the House, bringing our total to 128.

    – Franck P. Rabeson
    Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1181 days, as of today.

  • 124. StevenJ  |  September 15, 2010 at 1:44 am

    Just starting some research for a work-related publication, but do any of you have information/research/links, etc. on teen suicide rates, esp gay & lesbian teen suicides, and does any research show a connection between social media and teen suicide (gay/lesbian or otherwise)?

    I'm subscribed to this post for any responses. Thanks in advance.

  • 125. Bob  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:29 am

    @StevenJ, thanks for working on a publication of teen suicide, hope you get the information you need, I'm sure lot's of these videos will help.

    What I am wondering, is how does the U.S. compare with other countries in terms of stats, for teen suicide. it wold be interesting to know.

    And I wonder if it is partly to do with the quality of life which many people take for granted, look at third world countries, all those kids searching through garbage heaps, thinking about how to get through the day, does suicide enter their minds and do they follow through to the same degree .

    In wealthy countries we don't fight as much for simple survival, but our fight now is for acceptance, and often love, which frequently is ignored by parents who's goal is financial success.

  • 126. Josh  |  September 15, 2010 at 2:40 am

    To those turning this into a discussion about politics, you make me sick.

  • 127. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 2:40 am

    Well, I'm going to be the devil's advocate here and ask where the line gets drawn for personal responsibility? I'm sorry that Billy felt that this was his only solution but I really feel that suicide is one of the most selfish things a person can do. He left family/friends behind to deal with all of this instead of reaching out long before this happened.

    I hate bullies. I was heavily bullied all through K-12 between various schools and from various different people for different reasons (whether it was the interracial parents, the lack of money, the perception of being gay…there's always something). I understand how being bullied makes you feel but ultimately, I grew into a much stronger man as a result. I wouldn't change my experiences…negative or not.

    Life is chalk-full of challenges and how we deal and adapt to these challenges partially defines who we are. I'm not saying the bullies were right in their actions…but I'm also saying that neither was Billy. If he couldn't handle dealing with bullies now…how could he expect to survive as an adult? The fact is that life is full of bullies…child or adults. While we may not like it, it's simply the reality of the human experience. I hope his family finds some peace.

  • 128. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Great…blame the victim…Suicide is not selfish AT ALL!!!…..end of story…. : I ….Ronnie

  • 129. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Suicide is HUGELY selfish. I don't want to deal with my problems so I'm going to force other issues on my friends and family.

    I'm not blaming him for being bullied…I am blaming him for doing such a stupid thing.

  • 130. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 2:59 am

    NOPE Not selfish AT ALL…you never blame the victim EVER!!!

    You blame the bullies, you blame the school officials, you blame the Homophobic Fascist trash, The parents who taught their kids to be repugnant selfish bullying f@#ks…

    YOU NEVER EVER BLAME THE VICTIM!!!!

    >I …Ronnie

  • 131. AndrewPDX  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:23 am

    Without being able to ask Billy exactly why, we can only speculate.

    However, from my own bouts with depression and suicidal thoughts, I would speculate that Billy either did not know of the options available to him, or was led to believe that these other options were not better than suicide — somehow, Billy almost assuredly believed there was no other option available.

    And why would Billy believe that? I would venture it was because of the information fed to him on a daily basis from his peers, his teachers, and society in general.

    If Billy had all the information on the options available, then maybe he could have been saved.

    From the news article, it would appear that those whose job it is to give this teen the information that could have saved his life failed in this duty. That would be considered negligence in my book.

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Andrew

  • 132. Sheryl Carver  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:24 am

    @Phillip R & anyone else who cares to listen:

    My ex-husband (we still loved each other but even after years of counseling could not find a way to live in the same household) committed suicide 2 years ago. I was the one who found him. This experience, plus that learned (usually the hard way) over 60+ years of living, has taught me this:

    NO ONE KNOWS WHAT ANOTHER PERSON IS GOING THROUGH, OR WHAT THAT PERSON CAN HANDLE! Even if you think you have had the same experience. You haven't, because there are ALWAYS differences. Plus we each come into a situation with different strengths, weaknesses, skills, & knowledge.

    You may think there is nothing that would drive you to commit suicide. You may be right. But you do NOT have the right to judge another person because they could not find any other way to cope with the situation he or she was in. Especially a young person. Comfort the family, if you know them. Then look around you to see if there's someone you care about who is under more stress than you realize & do something to help. Don't judge.

  • 133. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:34 am

    I'm sorry for your ex-husband and the experience you went through.

    I'm not trying to sound judgmental (although that runs rampant everywhere…here included). I'm just expressing my personal views on suicide and bullying.

  • 134. Sheryl Carver  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Thank you for responding, Phillip.

    Suicide is probably one of the most emotionally laden topics there is. Rereading my post, it obviously is for me. I used to think like you, that it was selfish, thoughtless of those left behind. During a particularly painful period in my life, I seriously contemplated it, and the thoughts of what it would do to my family, especially my mother, kept me going, trying to find another way. & since I found another way, I was young enough to think that EVERYONE should be able to do that, too.

    But now I realize that we all have our limits, & sometimes the pain, physical or emotional, can be so great that the only thought one can have is to end the pain. Or we do other things to cope with the pain, things like drinking too much, overeating, or even overworking – anything to make the pain go away, if only for a little while.

    It's ironic, isn't it, that I was so judgemental about those who choose suicide before I learned how painful it is to have a loved one commit suicide, yet now I am not. Those many years of living in between, I guess. Yes, it was incredibly traumatic. Yes, I was angry. Yes, I still grieve. But I did not & do not blame him for what he did. I knew him well enough to understand that, at that moment, he did the only thing he thought he could do.

    I'm guessing that perhaps you are younger than I am, Phillip. Even if you're not, I can hardly judge you for having the same beliefs that I did. I only ask that you consider that there may be validity in others' views on the topic.

    Thanks for listening,
    Sheryl

  • 135. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:10 am

    Well, my view obviously comes from my own experiences. One of my closest friends committed suicide when I was a teenager and it still affects me to this day. I didn't have such a firm point of view on suicide until that point. I was angry and hurt for a long time afterwards.

    I'm not trying to discount anyone else's viewpoints on the matter. Just expressing my own (although I knew they'd be unpopular here).

  • 136. Sheryl Carver  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:29 am

    Ah, Phillip, I am so sorry for YOUR loss!

    At least I was a lot older & had more resources than any teenager can have, no matter how supportive your family & other friends (hopefully) were.

    You have courage, too, to express your sincerely held opinion where you surmised it would be criticized. Knowing now what you experienced makes your views & feelings about suicide very understandable.

    It DOES hurt those left behind, very, very badly. I'm guessing you still grieve for your friend, & perhaps are still angry at the choice he or she made. (I am NOT trying to play psychologist – I just know from my own experiences that emotions from events during childhood & teen years can last for a very long time.)

    I have tears in my eyes as I write this. For you, for me, for all those left behind, and for those who were so desperate that they saw no other options. And especially for those who are currently considering suicide, but can still choose another way. May we all find peace.

    Sheryl

  • 137. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:50 am

    Yea…I am still a bit angry over it even now. Takes a long time to deal with that trauma. For years, always had that nagging thought in the back of my head asking whether I could have said or done something. Maybe if I had listened more….or been more attentive. There was so much guilt that came about from it.

    And yes…I can most emphatically agree with your last statement. Peace unto all.

  • 138. Sheryl Carver  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Phillip,

    In my case, I think wondering if I could have done something to change his mind was, & to some extent still is, the hardest part. My logical, rational mind knows I could not have stopped him. My emotional side will always wonder a little bit, even after discussing this with a very competent psychologist who also knew my husband. Guess a tendency to feel guilty for something is a price we pay for wanting to be good, kind people. I wonder if it might also be a reaction of denial; if we believe we could have done something, we can avoid admitting to ourselves how little control we have over what happens to us. And as you & I & others all know, another's suicide most definitely "happens" to us.

    If you haven't already done so, Phillip, you might want to consider talking with someone skilled in this area, either a psychologist or a support group. It really helped me sort through a lot of stuff. Some of the emotions will probably never go away, & I don't think I actually want them to. But the psychologist helped me in ways that I am, at the moment, finding hard to explain. "It's better, now,." is the best I can do.

    Your trauma happened years ago, but it's never too late to help the healing process, if you feel there is still more healing to be done.

    Love to you,
    Sheryl

  • 139. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Well, it was a long time ago and it was one of the issues that I worked through with a psychologist when I was handling my own problems outside of that situation. Just isn't so easy to silence that voice in the back of your head that always wonders what could have been. Now, it just makes me more sad than angry. He had so much potential that is just gone now and I saw how it affected his parents after the fact. They divorced not too long ago…and while I'm sure this wasn't the cause of it, I wouldn't be surprised if the grief that came as a result of it was a factor. His mom just never seemed to smile the same way or have that same sparkle that she always had.

  • 140. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:08 am

    Well it's obvious that you disagree…however, suicide is never the answer to anything. So, yes…I will blame him for taking the easy way out and causing god knows how much psychological trauma to his family and friends.

    He was wrong.

  • 141. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:18 am

    Yes he was wrong for committing suicide…but the reasons are not selfish….as someone who has attempted it 3 times when I was that age…IT IS NOT SELFISH AT ALL!!!!

    Making the choice to kill yourself is not taking the easy way out…How about the trauma his friends, family, neighbors, teachers, peers etc…caused him to such a degree that he would want to take his own life…..NEVER BLAME THE VICTIM…That is another tactic that pushes people over the edge…."It's his fault he feels that way" blah blah…That's bullshite.

    >( …….Ronnie

  • 142. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:22 am

    No…what's bullshit is somehow thinking that he has zero personal responsibility for his own actions. If you want to blame the supposed trauma on his friends and family, then him committing suicide and inflicting that trauma on them is no better than the bullies in the first place. He could have reached out. Especially in this day and age where there are numbers of hotlines, internet sites, coping groups….so many resources to turn to even if all the ones in his immediate vicinity turn a blind eye to it.

    And yes…suicide is selfish and it's an affront to the blessing that is life.

  • 143. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:30 am

    NOPE …not selfish…you're selfish for thinking you know anything about what was going through his head when he took his life….It doesn't f@#king matter if those things are available…The teachers saw what was happening & did nothing…there are signs of people who are suicidal…& its the teachers responsibility to pick up on those things…It is our tax money that pays for that training that they refuse to use & or incorporate…When you are constantly told that you are worth nothing by the majority of the people in your life nothing will change those feelings caused in you by others…unless somebody reaches out to you….

    THERE IS NOTHING SELFISH ABOUT SUICIDE

    > ( ………Ronnie

  • 144. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Sure…maybe he showed signs of such an extreme behavior to his teachers. Perhaps, he didn't at all. He was a teenager after all and they aren't exactly the most open people.

    Maybe he never said a word to his family about his problems….maybe he did. Who knows. He needed to reach out for help. Another life lesson that everyone has to learn.

    On a side note, our teachers are also paid to actually teach (which I'd say is really their primary duty and responsibility…even more so with the No Child Left Behind). Sometime in the last decade or 2, it's somehow become the teacher's responsibility to monitor the emotional well-being of children instead of their parents…but that's a whole other can of worms.

    And yes…suicide is inherently selfish. We're going to have to agree to disagree on that one.

  • 145. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:52 am

    Nope not selfish… > I ….Ronnie

  • 146. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Why don't you explain to me why you feel that it isn't selfish instead of just saying it's not.

    Perhaps without personal insults? 😉

  • 147. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:10 am

    I already did…you refuse to comprehend it…& I posted no insults…you're calling him selfish for acting on feelings that you don't even know or understand (obviously)….that is an insult….to him, me (as a suicide survivor) & to those who have taken their own lives….Because of bullies & unaware people like you who put the blame on the victim instead of where it belongs….society & those that cause the pain…Blaming the victim in & of itself is selfish.

    >I …Ronnie

  • 148. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:16 am

    You're getting personally offended over my viewpoints that ultimately have nothing to do with you nor was directed at you. I may disagree with your opinion but I haven't been personally insulting to you in any way, shape or form. I'm sorry that you disagree with me. However, I am not sorry for my opinion….which is just that. A stranger's opinion on the internet…take it with a grain of salt.

  • 149. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:27 am

    What part of "Suicide Survivor do you not get"? By insulting people who have committed suicide you are, by default, insulting those who have attempted it as well…Therefore you have insulted me…even after I said you were insulting me & pointed it out…you made it all about you & your selfish desire to put the blame where it doesn't belong….The Victim is NOT selfish or to blame AT ALL!!!!

    >I ……Ronnie

  • 150. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:33 am

    I get that you found a way to overcome your problems without (successfully) committing suicide. I'm happy for you….truly. However, your attempts at suicide were selfish. That's a personal insult….which I never said prior to now but since you seem hellbent on it being personal…so be it.

    The only victim in suicide is the people left behind. Billy is no longer around to be a victim. He was a victim of bullying and nothing more.

  • 151. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Nope wrong again…I was not selfish…Billy was not selfish…Those left behind are made victims by those who put Billy & people like myself in the position to do what he did…You blame the perpetrators..NOT turn the victim into a perpetrator for your own selfish needs.

    >I …Ronnie

  • 152. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:05 am

    This will be my last comment to you about it Ronnie since we're on quite different wavelengths when it comes to it. I'm not advocating the bullies….nor am I advocating the 'victim of suicide' viewpoint. I'm not blaming him for the bullying…I'm blaming him for the actions he decided to take as a result of it.

    I'm sorry that my personal opinions are offending to you. Ultimately, we both want the same thing and that is for it to stop. It's obviously an emotionally charged topic for you so I apologize for 'stirring you up' so to speak. I still believe my opinion is valid regardless but when I realized you were getting personally upset about it, I should have kept it to myself.

  • 153. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Whatever…I'm done..blaming the victim for the actions he/she took that were caused by others is deplorable…& I will have no part in it…I was blamed after the first time for my feelings & that played a major part of what factored into me attempting it again… : I …Ronnie

  • 154. Rhie  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Ronnie – Oh you got that guilt trip too? I was told to think of my family and that I was just doing it for attention. Part of me wanted to scream – of COURSE I am doing it for attention! I need psychiatric help and NOT from the church! But I doubt they would have understood that.

    The person is in too much pain to care about what happens to anyone else. I honestly question whether someone who hasn't been in that kind of emotional, physical or psychic pain can really understand that what means. What kind of pain that has to be for a normal caring person to stop caring.

    People can focus on the selfish aspect if they want to, but I choose to focus on the amount of pain that must be. I think, in the long run, that is the most effective way to help.

    I say this as someone who struggles against Depression, PTSD and Fibromyalgia (a physical pain disorder) AND as someone who has been through the aftermath of a suicide death.

  • 155. Rhie  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Phillip – The reason why you are getting such a response is that you are telling everyone that has ever been through trauma of bullying (and, trust me, it is not supposed) that they are weak, wrong, selfish, bad people for ever having the most rational thought that their life was so bad that it couldn't be worse leaving.

    Yes, I said rational. It is. Life is not necessarily a blessing. There is nothing good or right or worth living for just by breathing. When life is a living hell to the point you clearly can't understand, what's the point in staying?A basic cost benefit analysis says this:

    being alive is awful. it is no blessing.
    I could go to hell or to heaven.
    I at least have a chance of going somewhere better. So, the rational thing is to take one's own life.

    As for the life is a blessing thing that has been used far too often by too many people to keep these people feeling awful, sinful and evil for perfectly natural feelings considering what they go through.

    Oh and you so wisely granted that chemical imbalances are no one's fault. You do realize that the chemical and electrical make up of the brain are changed by long term trauma such as bullying, right? So, by the time they got to the point of being unable to ask for help they were most likely truly not in their right mind. Fighting one's borked brain chemistry without help is nearly always a losing battle.

  • 156. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I never said a single word about anyone contemplating suicide. I said that it is a selfish act to the people that actually commit it. Which it is.

    Life is a blessing. I dunno where you are getting that somehow believing in the miracle of life (and it truly is a miracle) makes others feel sinful or evil for wanting to end it. If you really feel that being alive is awful, then perhaps you should be reaching out to the people in your lives.

    Everyone has their personal demons. I've been in dark places where I couldn't see any light. I've dealt with things that you can't even imagine…much like you have as well. I've had thoughts that I haven't been proud of. However, I don't act on them.

    I am in no way, shape or form claiming that feeling that way is selfish. I am saying that actually doing it is selfish.

  • 157. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Nope not selfish…the people who put him in that position are selfish…& the people who blame him instead of putting the blame on the ones who made him the victim are selfish…making it all about themselves…that he should of thought about the very people he thought he couldn't turn too…It's his life that was taken…not yours…It was he who was pushed to that point…NOT YOU!!!!….stop making it about yourself…the ones left behind are made victim by the those who hurt & pushed the one who committed the act…NOT BY THE PERSON WHO COMMITTED THE ACT!!!!!…You blame the perpetrators not the victim….You do NOT turn the innocent victim into the one who is wrong….end of story…. > I …Ronnie

  • 158. Rhie  |  September 15, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Phillip –

    What you still don't seem to be getting is that there is absolutely nothing "just my opinion" about this. It's personal and emotional to people who deal with it – as it is with you, you've said so – and so they are going to reaction emotionally to anything anyone says. It's not rational, but neither are people most of the time.

    You ARE talking about them, their friends, their family. You are saying that suicide is selfish because believing that life isn't precious is wrongheaded. You are saying that suicide is selfish because of the reasons leading to it. There is no material difference in a person who completed the act and a person who failed or was prevented – THAT is why people are acting the way they are.

    And, thank you, I don't need to reach out to anyone. I have plenty of friends and family that care about me. Finally, I know it. I didn't 10 years for reasons that weren't my fault. That's highly insulting for you suggest I need to do something.

    What I was saying is this: too many people say life is precious and nothing more to hurting, desperate person. All that does is shame them and make them want to prove it's not – either by taking their own life or taking their misery out on other people. A far better use of words would be to say and show that person WHY they should believe life is precious.

    As I said above: it really doesn't take much. One friendly touch, one word, one look. That's worth more than all the sermons on life in the world.

    Perhaps you should quit, now, while you are only miles behind. You know now that your words are hurting people – so why continue?

  • 159. Alan E.  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:23 am

    I have to disagree with your opinion that "suicide is never the answer to anything." I do believe that if a person is in such a physically painful state with no chance of recovery, then I would condone suicide if that person so wishes. My next door neighbor had been going through a painfully traumatic experience for the last 20 years. He decided to take his life this summer. His condition kept getting worse to the point where all he could do was lay on the floor and moan in agony all day. He usually kept his windows shut, but the days they were open would cause anyone walking by to cry in sympathy; I know I did on many occasions.

    That is the point that many teenagers who take their lives think they are at. They don't see that there is any way to make it better, and that they are trapped to live like this forever. The fault doesn't lie with them. It lies with those that fail to show them the open door, the path that there is actually a way to make things better. Ignorance is what you are really blaming, and that can't really be the scapegoat. Just because one person was able to survive 12 years of bullying doesn't mean the experience is exactly the same for the next kid who you think should be able to pull his/herself up by the bootstraps. It just doesn't work that way. It shows that you fail to see other perspectives and experiences because you project your own on everyone else.

    That being said, good for you for surviving through your own trauma. You are not the one to blame for the experiences, and those kids that take their lives are not to blame for not being able to comprehend their own experiences in life.

  • 160. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:41 am

    There is also the fact that even in this day and time, we still have a very strong stigma that follows anyone who ever seeks out the qualified help of a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional. And except for the gay bars, where are our LGBT youth going to find the community newsletters that give them the information about LGBT-friendly mental health providers where they know they can talk to these people about what is going on without being blamed for starting it simply by being gay. And no, Phillip R, suicide is NEVER the easy way out. It only seems to be the easy way out. And there are worse things to deal with in life. Yes, suicide leaves behind a lot of pain for those left behind, but at the same time, what part did they play in it to start with? How many of them actually made certain that Billy knew he could talk to them about anything? How many of them actually had his back so to speak? How many of them actually stood up for Billy and with Billy to say this is wrong and it needs to stop, and then backed up their words with actions?

  • 161. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:46 am

    So it's okay to blame the victims of suicide (the people left behind) and question their motives…but not the person who actually did it?

    I'm certain that his family and friends are putting enough guilt on themselves on their own.

  • 162. Ozymandias71  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:14 am

    I'm gonna open up a very private page in the journal of my life for you folks – this is a great community, and I feel fairly safe in doing so…

    "“People would call him ‘fag’ and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically,” student Dillen Swango told Fox. “They said stuff like ‘you’re like a piece of crap’ and ‘you don’t deserve to live.’ Different things like that. Talked about how he was gay or whatever.”

    This testimony haunts me. Naturally, my knee-jerk reaction was outrage toward Dillen Swango – 'You knew it was happening, saw it happening, heard it happening, and did nothing? You didn't stand up for Billy?' I've read testimony like this all too often in suicide/murder cases in high schools concerning Gay and Lesbian students – fellow students who could have stood up when their teachers couldn't (or wouldn't)… but they did nothing.

    But my carefully constructed glass house of righteous indignation shatters completely into dust when I hear that soft voice in my head say 'Well, you didn't either, did you?' My outrage melts into shame, and I am silenced by the sheer power in that little voice and the devastating truth it speaks.

    See, there were kids in my high school who were mercilessly picked on – verbally and physically bullied – when the teachers weren't looking. I saw it happen – heard it happen – knew it was happening – and had plenty of opportunities to stand up and say 'Hey, knock that sh*t off!' – but I didn't.

    Hell, during my Junior and Senior years, I was seriously buff, doing lots of weight training, track and field and so on – I was (I found out later) considered formidable – so I could have EASILY stood up for those kids who were the target of every bully in school – but I didn't. I remained silent, and was thus complicit in the bullying. By MY silence, I was helping the ones doing the bullying.

    I. was. complicit.

    I don't know what happened to those kids – did they grow up to be fine adults, able to shake off the years of abuse? Did they end up victims of the 'trainwreck of life' having never been able to escape the memory of that abuse? Worst of all, did they end up taking their own lives, with the taunting voices of their tormentors ringing in their ears? I honestly hope and pray that those kids made it safely to adulthood, I truly do – and I'm honest enough to admit that hope is mixed with the purity of really wanting their best, and the perhaps-selfish desire that my silence wasn't too damaging.

    So why the silence on my part? Well, on one hand there was the driving need for acceptance by my so-called 'peers' – I didn't want to rock the boat and risk my own status of being 'liked' – that was tremendously important in those days. On the other… well I was very much in the Closet then, and I was terrified that if I stood up, the spotlight would suddenly swing in my direction, and the Closet door wouldn't be able to stand the scrutiny. I'm sure you all know how it goes – 'well if he's so hard up on this gay stuff, then maybe he's gay too!' So, I was silent… and worse than silent, actually, because I actually said to myself 'Well if they didn't act that way, they wouldn't get picked on!' Yep, I said it too – the most detestable thing I've heard people say about these cases – to justify my silence.

    So… once I stared the Gorgon in the face, what was I to do? Well, I have taken this knowledge to the next generation. I have sat down with several high school-aged friends and shared my insights, and why they must NEVER make the same mistake I made – they must not keep silent. They can't count on the teachers to do the right thing – they won't always, either because they can't, or because they won't. Students standing up for other students has a tremendous impact – more than just counting on the teachers to do it for them.

    Similarly, I have talked to several parents of openly Out high school students (being astounded all the while by just how *many* there are now) explaining, from an adult standpoint, how they must both be willing to publicly stand up for their LGBT child, both to other students, their parents and the school staff, and above all else, COMMUNICATE with their children – how can they stand up for their kids if they don't know what's going on? Finally, I have talked to these LGBT kids, stressing just how vital it is for them to 1) do everything they can to protect themselves (self-defense courses and so on) and 2) to be unafraid to reach out to their supportive friends and family for that support.

    "To whom much is given, much is required" Jesus taught in Luke 12:48. The painful knowledge and harsh wisdom of my shameful silence and what motivated it is something to be shared – so that students will be less likely to face what Billy Lucas (and so many others) experienced, and so that the dream of Equality can come to pass that much sooner.

    *whew* *wipes a tear*

    Love to all,

    Ozy

  • 163. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Standing O for the O….<3…Ronnie

  • 164. Sheryl Carver  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Ozy,

    You may not have had as much courage as you wished back then, but you definitely have it now! We cannot change the past, but we can aspire to do as you have, learn from it, grow, become better than we were.

    Thank you for doing what you can to help others, and for sharing your story with us.

    Love,
    Sheryl

  • 165. AndrewPDX  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Thank you for sharing Ozy. I feel your pain.
    Sometimes, when I would see schoolmates being picked on, I would stand up for them… and sometimes not. Usually, it was out of fear of being 'outed', as I wasn't courageous enough to come out until much later.
    I regret that I was such a coward, but what is done cannot be undone. I can only learn from my mistakes and try to share what I have learned so that others don't have to make the same mistakes.

    Again, thank you for being part of our family here.

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Andrew

  • 166. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Big warm heat felt hugs Ozy. You are an amazing man…thank you

  • 167. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:32 am

    Standing O, Ozymandias71. You see, this shows that you have character. You have actually learned from what happened earlier in your life, and you are now working to be the change you want to see in this world. Here, have some cookies, MILK, coffee, challah, and whatever else you see. And HUGS!

  • 168. Straight Grandmother  |  September 15, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Ozy, so very proud of you for looking back and being ashamed. Most of us if we do something shameful, and we all have at one time or another in our lives done something we regret, we want to simply bury it away and not think about it. How courageous of you to confront your past behaviour adn in your adult life make up for it. Atta Boy!

  • 169. Ozymandias71  |  September 15, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Thanks all, for your kind words! Richard, I'll gladly have some coffee with MILK!

    Hugs to everyone!

    Ozy

  • 170. fiona64  |  September 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Dear Ozy:

    Thank you for sharing this.

    One of my friends from my HS days remembers seeing Greg hit me — and being appalled, but not doing anything for much the same reasons you describe. He was also on the football team, but he was really only there because that was the only way he could imagine ever going to college. His dad had walked out when Jim was a freshman,and he was working 40 hours a week after school to pay the mortgage; there was no college fund for him, and he wanted more than anything to be a student, go to college and become a minister. He asked me if I could ever forgive him — and said he would understand if the answer was "no."

    Of course I could.

    Thing is, we all do what we can with the tools we have at the time. The wonderful thing, to me, is that you are now mentoring young people to teach them why it's wrong to just say nothing when those incidents occur.

    BTW, Jim put himself through college as a chauffeur for an Arab sheikh — and he is now a loving, compassionate minister. He has taught me a lot about letting go of resentments, and I am eternally grateful to the wonderful man that that very nice, quiet boy became.

    Love,
    Fiona

  • 171. draNgNon  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:28 am

    someone asks above, what happens when they grow up.

    it's not what happens when they grow up, just what happened when they get a little bigger.
    http://www.wesh.com/r/25019358/detail.html

    A-20-year-old man told deputies he was walking in the area of Long and Barbara roads when he was approached by the group. The victim told investigators he was asked whether he was gay before the attack.

    "One asked if I was gay, and I said, 'What if I am?'" the unidentified victim said. … "The next thing I know, I felt somebody hit me from behind, and then they punched me," the victim said.

    …The victim in the most recent attack said he plans to move out of the neighborhood because he believes the assailants know where he lives.

  • 172. Wolfinlv  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Up above there somewhere someone said, I think it was Ray in MA, that there is nothing the president can do.
    Wrong. He can in the least send out a memo to the department of education saying to the effect "this must be stopped" Our school administrators and teachers must be made accountable for stopping this at all costs. If the principal was aware that there was bullying why wasn't he doing something about it. Make their jobs to protect all the children.

  • 173. fiona64  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Because nothing has changed since I went through this from the age of 6 on: "kids will be kids" is the attitude that the administration takes.

    You can't force people to rethink that, no matter how much you want to. "This is your new behavior, as from today," only creates resentment in people who think they're already doing more than enough.

    It starts with wonderful people like Peter Yarrow, with his Operation Respect project, and one teacher at a time implementing those policies. It starts with parents telling their kids that it is not okay to pick on people for being different/"weird"/whatever … and enforcing that rule. It starts with parents being willing to set the example by not telling ethnic, sexist or similar jokes at the expense of others.

    I am so saddened every time I hear about another kid who was bullied to death — because I know that it happens every single day, in many cases without anyone knowing.

    Love,
    Fiona

  • 174. fiona64  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:21 am

    PS — When the bullies are the "cool kids" or the jocks, teachers and administrators are loath to do anything about it. The "cool kids" and jocks' parents are the ones who put a lot of money into the booster club. 🙁

    The poor kids, et al., are the ones they couldn't care less about in 90 percent of the cases. I had three teachers in high school who gave a crap about what happened to their students. Three.

    When the quarterback of the high school football team physically assaulted me (he hit me hard enough to leave an enormous bruise on my arm, because I was one of the people who wanted the libraries open to us during pep assemblies so that we could do homework instead of cheering for the jocks), the principal of the school told me to go back to class and act like nothing had happened.

    "After all, we wouldn't want people to think something bad about Greg; he's such a role model to the other students."

    I wish that was a lie.

    Love,
    Fiona

  • 175. Straight Grandmother  |  September 15, 2010 at 7:49 am

    the principal of the school told me to go back to class and act like nothing had happened.

    gag and puke…how revolting a memory that is, I'm so sorry that happened to you. No wonder you were a good investigtor of sexual assualt in that defense job you had. You could probably smell out the "gregs" I'll just bet.

  • 176. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 3:57 am

    ‎"Eight months ago my son jumped off a bridge & killed himself. I deeply regret my lack of knowledge about gay & lesbian people. I see that everything I was taught & told was bigotry & de-humanizing slander..Bobby's death was the direct result of his parent's ignorance & fear of the word gay……To all the Bobby's & Jane's out there, I say these words to you as I would my own precious children. Please don't give up hope on life, or yourselves. You're very special to me, & I'm working very hard to make this life a better & safer place for you to live in. Promise me you'll keep trying. Bobby gave up on love, I hope you won't. You're always in my thoughts."~Mary Griffith

    The signs where there..Bobby Griffith reached out..& was still rejected by those he needed the most…now his Mother learned from that..that we need to reach out to those who need it & do not wait for them to reach out to you….because the wait just may be too late…. : ( ….Ronnie:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOEnjQY_jCk&fe

  • 177. Alan E.  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:32 am

    I really liked that movie. Sigourney did a fantastic job in that role.

  • 178. Michele  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:13 am

    @PhillipR

    I see the point you are trying to make…I do…but, I think you are forgetting some very important points..

    There are so many reasons people have left for committing suicide and many others that we will never know…but for selfish reasons? I think not. I think sometimes this decision is made with a completely rational mind–a deliberate choice to end a life of pain. But, I think at other times, this is not a choice that we would define as rational. Mental and physical pain and illnesses are very real and very much interfere with decision making and perceptions. To then judge these decisions as selfish is just cruel…especially for these young adults–we don't allow them to drink because of their young age and brain maturity, but you are quick to assume the decision they made was made with complete rationality. For crying out loud, they died–what possibly did they have to gain from this?

    I can speak from my own personal experience. When I was in that dark..dark place, I truly did not think there was a way out. I honestly thought that my family would be better off without me. I didn't think dying was some great thing–but I didn't think I could go on anymore–to me, it seemed the lesser of the evils. By dying I thought I would be helping them–not hurting them or further burdening them. Now, with some age and experience, I can see how I was wrong–not that I was stronger than I thought, but that time heals. But, I do not feel guilty about my thoughts then–I'm glad I didn't go through with them–but I was doing the best I could. You do the best you can, at that time with what you have to work with.

    So unless you have been there and can offer a point of view, some empathy, or at least some sympathy, please do not assume you know what you would do in that situation and judge those of us who made it through, and those of us who did not.

  • 179. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:23 am

    You don't know the experiences of my own life…you don't know whether I've been in that position…or dealt with loss. You don't know the pain that I feel for his family. You assume because I'm not sympathetic to his actions that I'm not sympathetic to the bullying that encouraged his actions. Far from it. I've been there…it's not easy.

    I'm simply expressing my viewpoint on suicide.

  • 180. Michele  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:37 am

    you are right–I don't know your experiences–I, too, am offering an opinion, more on suicide than bullying. I aplogize that I was assuming I knew what you had thought–that's exactly what I'm trying not to do and asking you not to do. I'm sorry.

    Before I had a similar opinion as you–My grandfather had committed suicide when I was young. I watched how my father and his siblings grew up with that pain and loss–and thought that it was cruel that my grandfather had deliberately inflicted that pain on them.

    But, now that I have been in that position, my view is very different. I was literally doing the best I could at the time. Whether it was bullying, depression, pain or any other reason for his suicide–none of those reasons, or the lack of those reasons makes it a selfish decision.

    I am a pull yourself up kind of person–and in many areas of my life I've done that. But, I am bipolar–and was undiagnosed at the time I was suicidal. I have a very real tangible disease that literally changes the way my brain processes hormones and other chemicals. I had tried to get help beforehand but was misdiagnosed and mis-medicated. When I still wasn't feeling better after talking with a dr–then I really felt it was hopeless. Until I got the proper medication, I couldn't "think" my way out of it or "pull" my way out of it–lucky for me, I had good friends that stepped in in time. What I'm trying to explain is that, at that time, that was my reality. I honestly thought it was better for everyone if I wasn't alive—that doesn't make it true, but it was definitely what my brain thought was true at the time. Does that make any sense?

  • 181. Phillip R  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:45 am

    That makes perfect sense actually….but then I wouldn't blame suicide on you but the deficiency that you struggle with. I completely understand how that could have brought about thoughts of suicide…and I'm glad that you were able to be diagnosed before something worse happened.

    Brain chemistry and it's effects on behavior, personality are fascinating.

  • 182. Ronnie  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:46 am

    This is how you respond to suicide…you reach out…don't wait for the one in pain to reach out…because it may be too late…If those who reached out to me had not done so after my 3rd attempt…I would not be here…They said there where signs but did nothing…I reached out & was constantly let down…This is how you address suicide…This is how you each out…..

    To anybody out there that is thinking of suicide as a means to end, Please don't. No matter what your orientation, gender, size, skin color, or (dis)ability, etc. is; You are beautiful. It is those who use their religion & deplorable upbringing to hurt other people that are wrong. It is those who turn a cheek that are wrong. It is those who would put the blame on others to justify why they did nothing who are wrong. It those who turn the victim into the perpetrator who are wrong. There is nothing wrong with you, how you are, how nature made you……

    That was said to me…& saved my life… <3…Ronnie:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAfyFTzZDMM

  • 183. Rhie  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:26 am

    Yes! Reach out! It doesn't have to be a lot or a big deal. I remember a girl at school who didn't even know me that well said "hey. I've noticed you seem upset. I know I don't know you well but I care. Someone cares."

    And that…just knowing someone noticed I was upset, cared enough to notice…helped a LOT.

  • 184. fiona64  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:11 am

    This has been a very triggering topic for me, so I haven't read much of it. (Yes, I was the skinny, geeky, too-smart-for-my-own-good, impoverished kid …)

    Anyway, Ronnie — thank you for these beautiful, loving words. I decided to respond to this because I can tell you that you are absolutely right.

    I have mentioned that twice during my life I have dealt with stalkers. The first time was a whack-job ex; the second had to do with my work on marriage equality. Anyhoo, I was having a very hard time of it. A friend asked me to meet him for lunch in Sacramento; he lived up near Lake Tahoe at the time, and Sac'to was the halfway point. He was late due to weather (it was raining near me and snowing near him). I had a rental car because my own wheels were in the shop — and on the way up to Sac'to, I considered just running the car off the overpass and killing myself. I talked myself down from that particular ledge only to have a different one when T. became increasingly late.

    Without getting into all of the particulars, suffice it to say that I wound up sitting on a bench in Old Town Sacramento, outside the restaurant where T. and I were to meet, and I was bawling. Not just a sniffle, but the whole grand organ thing. I couldn't stop, no matter how I tried. People looked daggers at me as they walked by; I was so embarrassed and that just made me cry even more.

    Except for one man. He was some kind of a city maintenance worker. He stopped and asked if I was all right, whether there was someone he could call for me … how could he help me, right then? He also said "Don't be embarrassed to tell me what's wrong; we'll probably never see each other again, and it might help."

    He was right. It did.

    He brought me a Coke, and helped me calm down until T. got there.

    It cost that man nothing but a few minutes of his time, and a can of soda from his lunch box. It meant the world to me. I now pay attention, and I ask people if there's anything I can do. I also thank them, and work very hard to be kind. You never know when that few extra seconds that cost you nothing are worth the world to the person in front of you.

    Love,
    Fiona

  • 185. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Thank you for sharing that story Fiona….I'm glad you found some compassion and help when you needed it. I am also glad the lesson in that has allowed you to take that further in helping others.
    You are truly one of the greatest allies I have ever had the pleasure of being associated with. Your compassion and desire for equality seem to know no bounds.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being YOU

    Big Furry Hugs
    Mark (and Robert)

  • 186. fiona64  |  September 15, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Thank you so much, Mark. As I re-read this, I realized that I didn't specify which time this incident involved — it was the whackjob ex. I was scared that he would follow me and kill me, among other things. Yikes.

    I am grateful to every single one of you here for your bravery, love and kindness.

    Love,
    Fiona

  • 187. Straight Grandmother  |  September 15, 2010 at 7:56 am

    OH EM GEE, Fiona. I am so grateful to that man also. All of the sharing here has touched me deeply, including yours. I never wuold have imagined.

  • 188. Ann S.  |  September 15, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Fiona, thank you so much for sharing that story. You're so right, that it often costs us nothing to stop and show concern, and it may mean the world to someone else.

  • 189. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:04 am

    As a survivor of suicide myself I guess I can see both sides of this issue…..
    Yes suicide IS selfish but who cares!
    And No, you NEVER blame the victim…EVER!

    When one reaches that point in their life when they don't feel there is any other option available to them, whether or not the taking of their life is selfish is really the last thing they are thinking about.
    Most people in that position don't feel there is anyone who cares, so why bother reaching out.
    What good would it do but cause them more pain when they are rejected.
    People left behind after a suicide often feel lost and full of guilt…often time that guilt turns to real anger at the one now gone. Blame, hostility, denial all come into play
    But through it all it comes down to this, the VICTIM felt they had no choice and did what they thought was right.
    IMHO

    Mark

    P.S. Really glad now I was so bad at it and failed…..

  • 190. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:24 am

    So are we, Mark. 🙂

  • 191. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Thanks sweetie 🙂

  • 192. Ann S.  |  September 15, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I'm glad, too. I think we all are.

  • 193. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you Ann 🙂

  • 194. Michele  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Ronnie and Mark,

    I completely agree. In such a dire and sad situation–does it really matter who is to blame?

    I, too, would not be here if not for friends that stepped in before and after my attempt. I know for a fact, if someone had tried to guilt me at that stage I would have gone through with it–that would have been the worst response I could imagine.

  • 195. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Big hugs Michele 🙂

  • 196. Alan E.  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:21 am

    The family of Justin Aaberg, the teen who took his life back in July in Minnesota, is having a benefit to help pay for burial expenses this Sunday. There is a facebook event with more info, plus info about donating if you can't attend.
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=14517280217

  • 197. Chris From CO  |  September 15, 2010 at 7:08 am

    This is happening more than it should this was just a boy perhaps many of us can relate to 15 is to young for this responsbility we hear adults today fight over the gay issues. Many of us have hardened our hearts we cant expect the kids to. We listen to Brian Brown and that damn Maggie women and we laugh her ideas off there are millions of them out there speaking to kids every where, saying the same stuff then their kids go to school and push the same ideas on the playground, class rooms, and the parking lots. It is a lot to take in myself and many of us got thru it. But lets not sit here and think less of this boy because he didn't get thru it. He is a boy 15 yr olds arnt rational, never have been, and then through in a lot of hate any thing can happen this is just an example of what happens. At the begining of this year another boy hung himself he was 12, and a 11 yr boy was shot at school for telling a boy he thought he was cute. In our community we need to look out for these young kids and follow the presidents lead on this, talk to them tell them know it's hard but you can get thru it. My heart goes out to all those people who knew him they do have a lot to take in hopefully someone will make a differnce in the school becuase of this. :'(

  • 198. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 15, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Here is a song from a few years ago about teen suicide. It is one where I could definitely answer the question the title asks.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdSaI080VXc&ob

    Too many times, we do not see the writing on the wall before someone ends it all. And many times, those of us who have been there and who have actually attempted suicide are unable to make those signs visible to others because we have been treated so cruelly that we know deep in our hearts that we have nowhere to turn. I know now that there was a need for me to go through that, and that my experiences can help someone else. However, it still stings me when someone says that any of our teens who commit suicide are the ones being selfish, when I know from personal experience that this is not the case. I was so beaten down by everyone and everything around me that I just knew in the very depths of my soul that everyone would be better off without me. Years of abuse from all corners of your existence can do that to you, and when you are a child you very rarely have the full scope of resources that you have as an adult. And in your teen years you are even more fragile than at any other time in your childhood.

  • 199. Bob  |  September 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    just to let you know of the possiblities, on the Island on which I live, we have a High School which is quiet large because all the smaller Islands send their kids over here for school

    The one thing we are proud of as community is a very visible LGBT component.

    The high school has a very active gay striaght alliance which the community is very proud of.

    This past weekend was our PRIDE PARADE, the students from the gay straight alliance marched with a banner that I thought was really great of course a rainbow but the words said.

    IF YOU'RE BORN GAY, FOLLOW THE RAY

    BORN STRAIGHT REFUSE TO HATE

    Also due to the pride celebration and timing, this weeks local paper has featured a story or bio about one persons journey as transgendered.

    And I attended a Unitarian service where a married lesbian couple shared their story of giving birth to a daughter, how they took the egg from one, sperm from a donor they chose, and used the womb of the other parent, it was an amazing well thought out story of creating family.

    These stories and experience bring me hope, in a small community that values diversity. and celebrates it.

  • 200. Straight Grandmother  |  September 15, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Considering this Topic this is a real uplifting story. Than you.

  • 201. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 16, 2010 at 7:05 am

    What island do you live on Bob?
    And thank you for such a lovely story…gives me hope 🙂

  • 202. Muffinz  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Why is the world so cruel? Why are kids so damn horrible to each other?

    It's things like this that make kids afraid of coming out, afraid of being who they are. The amount of ignorance in the world is something I will never, ever understand, no matter how hard I try. So a man has a male lover instead of a female, so the hell what? It's not like they're going to cause an apocalypse.

  • 203. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 16, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Kids are cruel yes, but they learn it from adults on a daily basis

  • 204. BK  |  September 16, 2010 at 3:23 am

    I remember wanting to commit suicide before… but that was before I redefined myself as me, rather than who I knew or who associated with me or what people thought of me. I am so disappointed in the principle for laying the blame at the boy's feet… these things can be prevented. 🙁

  • 205. fiona64  |  September 16, 2010 at 8:39 am

    From "South Pacific":

    You've Got To Be Carefully Taught

    Cable:
    You've got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You've got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It's got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught before it's too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You've got to be carefully taught!

  • 206. chris underwood  |  October 12, 2010 at 6:30 am

    i say its sad not alot of str8 people will stand up for us im gay and i was bulled but everyone got use to me being gay but i would hurt anyone who would bully us till we kill uor selfs. and when they say were just playing with them its really messing with our emotions…

  • 207. daidai  |  November 11, 2010 at 6:59 am

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