This column is dedicated to 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, 15-year-olds Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas, and 13-year-olds Seth Walsh and Asher Brown. This column is dedicated to anyone who has committed suicide because they were the targets of bullying for being anything but heterosexual. This is for anyone who is getting bullied right now for being anything but “straight.”
Tyler jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and another person recorded and distributed videos of him having sexual relations with another man.
Justin hung himself in his bedroom.
Billy hung himself in the family barn.
Seth was found unconscious after trying to hang himself in the backyard. He died 10 days later.
Asher shot himself in the head with a pistol in his stepfather’s closet.
These young men are disastrous examples of the dangers of failing to live up to socially-constructed norms. “Gay men are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide,” according to the British newspaper, The Guardian.
Jamey Rodemeyer, 14, wrote of his frustration and suffering in blog posts, and it was on his posts where his bullies would taunt him even more than they would in school. The Guardian quoted a post to Jamey saying, “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!” Jamey died in September.
According to the Give A Damn Campaign, an organization fighting the bullying of young gays, “Three out of five gay and transgender kids feel unsafe at school.”
Bullying gays to their death is a hate crime. School officials who do nothing to stop the bullying, which is too often the case, are accessories to this crime and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
A Give A Damn Campaign report concluded that two-thirds of gay and transgender students report hearing homophobic remarks from school staff, and 95 percent of high school principals report that students in their school have been harassed because of their sexual orientation.
A study published in the “Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology” said, “Men who were currently or formerly in same-sex domestic partnerships were eight times more likely to die by suicide compared to men with histories of heterosexual marriage, and almost twice as likely as men who had never married.”
All of these examples and statistics show that suicide among homosexual youths has become in becoming almost an epidemic. Unfortunately, only 16 states and the District of Columbia have school laws to combat these hate crimes.
More than 1,200 hate crimes were committed as a result of the victim’s sexual orientation, according to the FBI.
Everyone is different and it is about time that people respect that. Gays and lesbians around the world are being stripped of their right to live, love and be happy—and no one has the right to take that away. Be brave and speak up when confronted by bullying. It is the right thing to do.