In the past several weeks the media has reported on a number of tragic suicides precipitated by bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. Among them are: 13-year-old Seth Walsh who after months of relentless bullying hanged himself from a tree outside his California home this week; Billy Lucas of Indiana, 15, who hanged himself after being called a “fag” over and over again; Asher Brown, 13, whose classmates teased him without mercy and acted out mock gay sex acts in class, shot himself in the head last Thursday; and Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi who killed himself by jumping off a bridge after his roommate secretly recorded him with another male student, then broadcast the video online. Additionally, a single school district in Minnesota has seen seven suicides in the last year by young victims of intolerance. Sadly, these are not isolated incidents; deaths like these continue to occur around the country, but they are preventable.
We have to do something. Today we ask Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to speak out immediately to push every school in the nation to implement anti-bullying policies inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity
Additionally, The HRC Foundation has developed Welcoming Schools (www.welcomingschools.org) – an innovative program that gives elementary school teachers, parents and students across the country the tools to help stop the name-calling, bullying and gender stereotyping that so many students face every day. It helps kids learn respect and tolerance early on, to prevent violence later in middle and high school.