Wednesday, October 28, 2015

National Bullying Prevention Month Is Almost Over, But Bullies Are Still Hard At Work

School is in full swing now during October, National Bullying Prevention Month, but LGBT students still feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and gender expression. According to GLSEN’s (Gay, Straight Education Network) on-line survey entitled the 2013 National School Climate Survey of students between ages of 13 and 21, 55.5%  of LGBT adolescents feel insecure at their school.  They report higher levels of depression, lower GPAs  as well as self-esteem than heterosexual students. 
Despite the harassment, in schools with a comprehensive policy against harassment, LGBT students are less likely to hear gay used in a negative way, as for example, “that’s so gay.”  But 72% of students with no policy hear “that’s so gay” frequently. 
According to GLSEN, the prevalence of hearing negative remarks about gender expression was at its lowest levels in 2013. What is GLSEN offering schools that is proving to be effective?
·      Provides an Elementary School toolkit called “Ready, Set, Respect.”  This teaches about respect, and focuses on name-calling, bullying and bias, LGBT-inclusive family diversity and gender roles and diversity.
·      Has a guide called “Working With LGBT Students of Color: A Guide for Educators.”
·      Safe-Space Kit – For $20, a school can order a 42-page guide filled with strategies.
·      Information on how to join/start a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) at your school or take part in one of GLSEN’s student leadership programs to make your school a better place.
·      Has Educator guides, lesson plans, and resources ready to download.  
·      Press materials covering Inclusion and Respect for Educators.
·      GLSEN sponsors special events such as A Day of Silence, No Name-Calling Week, Ally Week, Think B4You Speak, and Changing The Game.
On a larger scope, outside the school, GLSEN chapters connect to obtain support locally and bring change to communities. GLSEN UP has a policy action center to contact your elected officials and learn about GLSEN’s current campaigns.  Besides federal laws, such as Safe Schools Improvement Act and the The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), GLSEN supports states’ bills such as Equality Act, Every Child Deserves a Family Act, Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, and The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (suicide prevention).
To be a supportive ally and inspire students to be kind and speak up when they see bullying, look to GLSEN for concrete tips.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

National Spirit Day on October 15

                                               Be A Visible Ally

Coinciding with October’s Anti-Bullying Awareness Month and the seventeenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death, LGBT allies, including corporations, friends, organizations, will show their support against bullying on October 15th, National Spirit Day.  It’s not too late to pledge your support on-line with a donation, turn your profile purple, the color of “spirit” on the rainbow flag, order Safe Space Kits for your middle or high school, obtain Resource Kits or wear a Spirit Day button.

Observed since 2010, this world-wide Spirit Day has corporate sponsors such as Wells Fargo that makes schools safer havens for LGBT children and their teachers with their Safe Space Kits.  Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West has already pledged to support LGBT kids and take a stand against bullying.

Climate Better But Still A Backlash Against Equal Rights

Even with same-sex marriage being passed as the law of the land last June, and the majority of households polled approving of gay marriage, creating almost a false security that all is well, there is still a backlash in this country from Right Wing organizations such as The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) or The Family Research Council (FRC).  Transgendered individuals seem to be the least understood and share the brunt of the most attacks, physical and verbal.

In our States, did you know that:
Only fifteen states have laws that address hate or bias crimes, but do not address sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is no federal statue explicitly addressing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) reports that over 80% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed due to a real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBT students report missing one day of school a month because of harassment.

For more tips on combatting bullying in schools, see blog posts: “When The School is Lax About Bullying,” 8/31/15, “The 4R’s: ‘Riting, “Rithmetic, and Regulation,” 8/21/15, and “The Legacy of Bullying,” 6/11/15.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

National Coming Out Day

Tomorrow, October 11, you may see more pink triangles on clothing and rainbow flags waving in the air. Rallies, parades may be more prominent.  Why?  It’s National Coming Out Day.  As of 1990, it is observed in fifty U.S. states and seven other countries.


It’s observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBTQ community.  Founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico, it celebrated the second anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbians and Gay Rights when an estimated 500,000 gathered on the National Mall to demand increased funding for HIV/AIDS research, the repeal of anti-sodomy laws and the legal recognition of LGBT relationships. The Human Rights Campaign has resources for National Coming Out Day. See

By sharing stories of coming out, LGBT persons hope to take the stigma out of being “different,” and advance equality. It is estimated that one out of every two Americans has someone close to them who’s gay or lesbian so there is enormous potential for LGBT allies.

When To Tell

However, LGBT people should not feel pressured to come out on October 11th.  Their announcement will not be as newsworthy or glamorous as a moviestar’s or an athelete’s. So, they shouldn’t get caught up in the celebration and reveal themselves before they are ready.

Announce you’re gay when you feel most secure and comfortable.  Perhaps in a quiet living room with no distractions so your family can truly listen and take in your important message.

Weigh The Risks

The average age of coming out, according to a Pew Research Study, is sixteen.  In the 1980’s, it was twenty-one.  A sixteen year-old is still living with his/her parents regulating their social life. So, if your parents disapprove of your sexual orientation, it means that they could, in fact, reject you, tell you to go live elsewhere (40% of homeless youth have been thrown out of their homes) and withhold money that was designated for college for you.  Your teen’s decision to come out should be contingent on his parent’s acceptance and love.  If you hear homophobic slurs at home, perhaps this is not the time to come out to your folks.  You can anticipate indignation.

Better to have a supporter, preferably one who is out himself.  Also, if you are out at school,  think about the likelihood that you will be bullied. .LGBT students, according to GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, get harassed more than their heterosexual peers.  You have to weigh these factors before coming out.

A Word to Parents

Even if you suspect that your child is gay/lesbian, you should not ask.  Give the child some space.  It’s none of your business until he/she divulges this important aspect of his true self. Ask and he/she may think you’re judging – that you noticed something different about him.  Better to create a safe environment where he/she can come out when ready. For example, you might discuss current events, the Supreme Court decision of last June, bullying at school, reveal that you’re all for a diverse society.  Make it easy for him to come out of the closet.

Once he does, it’s wise for you not to come out yourself about his identity without his permission.


Friday, October 2, 2015

"Do I Look Fat?"

“Do I Look Fat?”

Every teen wants to look sharp so they can fit in.  Whether they’re emulating the hottest celebrities or have their own style, they hope their own brand will propel them into popularity and give them persona.

To an LGBT kid whose look may be different than the mainstream, who may feel different being on the fringe, fitting in is not easy.  This state of being different may pre-dispose a gay or lesbian student for eating disorders.  Other factors may include, or are not limited to, according to NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association:

Coming Out: Fear of Rejection/experience of rejections by friends, family, and co-workers.
Experiences of Violence (gay bashing).
Being Bullied

Research Shows LGBT Population Has Greater Eating Disorders

Findings point out that as early as twelve, GLB teens may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than heterosexual peers.  There are elevated rates of binge-eating and purging by vomiting or laxative abuse by both males and females who identify as GLB.

What’s A Parent To Do?

Left unnoticed, eating disorders can continue into adulthood.  Gay men are up to three times more likely than heterosexuals to have a clinical or subclinical eating disorder.  Forty-two percent of men who struggle with eating disorders identify as gay or bisexual, according to an article “a hidden epidemic eating disorders in the gay community,” in

Telltale Signs

If your child refuses to eat with the family or you notice sudden weight loss or evidence of laxative abuse, be concerned.  Eating disorders could coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety disorders.

For help with this problem, contact NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness)’s Helpline that can refer you to various organizations.  Their phone number is 800-950-NAMI.