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LGBTs are being bullied. 'Pro-family' denialists are aiding and abetting.

by Jeremy Hooper

The "pro-family" troops love to put their heads in the sand when it comes to the very real problem of anti-LGBT school bullying. When we suggest that it's still happening, they relegate our claims to the "homo agenda" file. And year after year when we support the Day Of Silence event to raise awareness of this still-prevalent epidemic, they counter us by suggesting that gays should change into "ex-gays" if they want to be happy/safe/well-adjusted. For those of us who have actually grown up in the skin of a queer teen, this school-centric neglect (which is typically done in the name of God) is among the most, if not the most, disgusting bit of anti-gay activism that we come up against.

This week, the New York Civil Liberties Union gives us another reason why we should all be concerned with the "protect children" crowd's dangerously willful oversight:

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against the Mohawk Central School District in Herkimer County for failing to protect a gay student who does not conform to masculine stereotypes from vicious and relentless harassment, physical abuse and threats of violence.

Over the past two school years, Jacob, a 14-year-old student at Gregory B. Jarvis Junior/Senior High School, endured escalating harassm
Jacob-1ent for his sexual orientation and for not conforming to masculine stereotypes. He suffered near-constant verbal assault, his personal property has been defaced and broken, and he was regularly pushed and had things thrown at him. This past year, a student knocked Jacob down the stairs and sprained his ankle and a student brought a knife to school and threatened to kill him.

The harassment harmed Jacob’s academic performance and mental health and though the district was repeatedly made aware of the abuse, district officials – including the superintendent and school principal – failed to formerly investigate the harassment, discipline students, or even inform Jacob and his parents of their rights to file complaints under the school’s grievance procedures.

“Jacob, like all students, has a right to be safe at school,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “No child should live in fear because of their sexual orientation, or because they look or act differently than others. That the principal and other school officials would turn their backs on this vulnerable young man is unconscionable. What’s more, it’s illegal.”

KEEP READING: NYCLU Sues Herkimer Co. School District for Failing to Protect Gay Youth from Harassment [NYCLU]

Protect Jacob. Protect us all.

**ALSO: Feel free to send a friendly but firm message to the school district.


Picture 2-291A week after the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the Mohawk Central School District in Herkimer County for failing to protect a gay student who does not conform to masculine stereotypes from vicious and relentless harassment, threats and physical abuse at school, the district has agreed to take immediate action aimed to ensure that student’s safety when classes resume next month.

The agreement, approved by a federal judge, does not end the lawsuit, but it means that the school district will meet the NYCLU’s demands for emergency relief to provide for the student’s safety. The agreement is under seal, meaning its specifics cannot be disclosed.

In Response to NYCLU Lawsuit, Herkimer Co. School District Agrees to Measures to Protect Gay Youth from Harassment [NYCLU]

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Your thoughts

These kinds of things make me sick to my stomach. Even worse is that this isn't an isolated case.

Gotta hope that kid will be alright.

Posted by: Will | Aug 21, 2009 10:20:38 AM

As a gay teen, I'm right there with Jacob. No matter how many times I reported the bullying nothing happened, except me getting suspended for cussing. I finally had to move to another school district.

Posted by: Callie | Aug 21, 2009 12:33:10 PM

The jackass principle even said flat out that he was not responsible for Jacobs safety.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Aug 21, 2009 2:22:48 PM

This isn't just anti-gay, it's also pro-bully. The majority of public schools have always turned a blind eye to bullying for any number of reasons. They'll claim that it's just "kids being kids," that the victim must have done something to provoke it, and that all bullies have low self-esteem, so punishing them would be harmful. They also like to claim that bullying is the same as a mutual conflict, so they have to stay neutral. But it's not conflict, it's abuse, and to paraphrase Desmond Tutu, being neutral towards abuse is the same as siding with the abuser. And meanwhile, the girl who hugged a classmate to console him because his parents just died, the boy who had a box cutter in his car because he needed it for his after-school job, and the girl who dyed red streaks in her hair are all suspended under "zero tolerance" policies. Seeing draconian punishments like that, you'd think that bullying would merit more than a shrug and "oh well, boys will be boys, whaddaya gonna do?"

Bullying is a normal part of school? So was segregation. But that didn't change the fact that it was wrong, it was harmful, and it need to change.

Posted by: TB Tabby | Aug 21, 2009 3:32:11 PM

They have thrown away too many lgbt youth that could have made a real difference in the world. Of course they throw away translators like we don't need them. Ho hum, everybody picked out their asylum country yet?

Posted by: Julian Domain | Aug 21, 2009 5:33:13 PM

Callie, I am so sorry. *hugs*

I am sorry for Jacob, too, and glad that he had it in him to find the NYCLU and file this suit. (Probably he had a supportive parent, which is a *huge* asset that some LGBT teens don't have.) We need to make these school districts listen.

I have actually asked groups like Focus on the Family what they propose as a way to help stop bullying and searched their sites for anti-bullying materials. Not surprisingly, I got almost nothing, and it was difficult to find. I have actually seen them abet bullying, too--remember when James Dobson said that Spongebob Squarepants was gay? I had a 12-year-old boy cousin who liked Spongebob, and got harassed over that.

I do not believe them when they say they are against bullying. They are firmly on the bullies' side.

Oh, and TB Tabby: Everything you said. In some ways, American kids have it easier than Gen X and Boomer adults do. In others, they have it so, so much harder. I wouldn't trade places with them for a second.

Posted by: GreenEyedLilo | Aug 21, 2009 9:46:32 PM

That makes me angry. They just . . . ugh! I had something similar happen to me, on a much lower scale. A pair of boys attempted to follow me home, throwing sticks and bottles and whatever else they could find. I had to get a stick to chace them off. Also, one of my sister's friends had their locker painted on. Some idiot scrawled 'fagot' in permentent ink, but he just took a sharpie and wrote below it 'If you are going to insult me, at least spell it correctly. "Faggot" has two g's.' That made me happy. not happy enough not to be angry at the schools, but . . .

Posted by: Chara | Aug 23, 2009 11:53:00 AM

This issue serves as yet another reminder that unfortunately, even in this day and age, a large segment of society still regards homosexuals as second-class citizens – or worse. That is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay man, and chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others). More information on the book is available at http://www.eloquentbooks.com/BrokenSaint.html.

Mark Zamen, author

Posted by: Mark Zamen | Aug 24, 2009 2:54:39 PM

I read this and wonder if there is anything that can be done about this type of bulling. I'm not that far out of high school myself and can think of many instances were bulling has happened and nobody knew about it. I mean this kid was brave enough to step up and admit what was happening to him, and why it was happening. I think back to my high school, and this could have never been brought to the adminstration because they would have turned a blind eye or worse agree that this is what should be done to help the kid see what they were doing "wrong". Also in response to this being about the gay movement and visblitiy being harmful to children, I agree that they are overlooking this particular aspect all their propganda and nonsense is creating a very unsafe enviroment in these schools for young out gay men and women.

Posted by: Shelby P. | Sep 29, 2009 3:44:42 AM

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