- by Stacey Prince
Several months back I began collecting information and resources for an article on bullying in the schools. Discrimination and harassment experienced by youth, and the related social justice issues, are something we have not talked about very much yet in TJP. This was before what is now being termed an "epidemic" of teen and young adult suicides that can be directly linked to harassment, bullying and violence experienced by LGBT youth. I'm sure many of you have seen the terrible stories, too many to recount, in recent weeks about teen suicides. Most recently there was the young Rutgers student who killed himself after peers posted video on the internet of him being intimate with a male partner. There was the 13 year old in California who hung himself after being taunted by classmates for being gay, and the 15 year old in Indiana who hung himself under similar circumstances. Then there were the five suicides, including three by gay teens, in a single Minnesota school district.
Results of the 2005 Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Climate Survey showed that while 22% of the general student population feels unsafe in school, 74.2% of LGBT students reported feeling unsafe. Further, based on data from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the CDC, and estimates that approximately 30% of youth suicides are related to sexual orientation, the National GLBTQ Youth Foundation recently concluded that over 1,400 GLBTQ youth between the ages of 10 to 24 complete suicides, and an additional 15,000 contemplate committing suicide, each year. Even these whopping numbers are likely to be under-estimates since the sexual orientation of youth suicide victims is not always known.
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