This issue is getting a lot more attention in the wake of the recent suicides. It’s also something the LGBT community is increasingly focused on. I think we’re realizing that many of our elected allies aren’t looking out for us, so we have to do it for ourselves:
Cases like these are far from rare, and “this may be the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. David Reitman, chair of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender and Questioning Special Interest Group, part of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. In a statement, he said “the tragic outcome in these cases underscores the profound consequences that bullying and harassment can have on a young person.”
Of course any child, gay or straight, can become victims of bullying, as the much-publicized suicide in January of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of South Hadley, Mass., showed all too tragically. She had withstood months of bullying from schoolmates after moving from Ireland.
But experts say adolescence renders young people especially vulnerable to harassment, and the difficulties of grappling with sexuality can complicate that further.
Columbia University psychiatry professor Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman noted that the adolescent brain is still developing and sensitive to negative feedback from peers. Teens “are very prone to take things to an extreme,” he told ABC News. “So what may be an insult or a setback to an adult, to an adolescent is the end of the world.”
Add to that the impulsive nature of youth and suicide becomes more likely. “Something happens, they’ve got to take care of it right away,” Lieberman said. “They can’t sit with it or try to work through it or not react to it.”
Despite some headway in societal acceptance of gay people generally, the bullying of gay teens remains widespread.
LGBT kids are dying. It has to stop.
The messages of hate and inequality from elected and religious types has to stop first. That kind of language makes hating gays acceptable. The LGBT community may need to devote its resources to organizations that protect kids instead of politicians who don’t support full equality. We’re just enabling the hate when we support anyone who doesn’t think we deserve full equality.
If you’re in DC, stop by the fundraiser for the Trevor Project tonight.