Monthly Archives: September 2011

Church’s Response to LGBT Youth Suicide

Yesterday I posted a few thoughts about Jamey Rodemeyer’s suicide and a link to a great open letter to Christian parents of LGBT youth.

As a quick follow-up, I thought you might want to see this pic I just found of a church’s response to Jamey’s suicide…

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Filed under Church, Encouragement, Partners, Supporters & Allies

A Letter to Parents of LGBT Youth… It MUST get better.

Even though Jamey Rodemeyer found the courage to make an “It Gets Better” video encouraging his LGBT peers to “hold their heads up,” things didn’t get better.  Last week Jamey committed suicide.

Our friend Kathy Verebiest of Canyonewalker Connections said this about Jamey’s video (which you can watch below):

…too bad he was not saying “I am getting so much support from my youth leaders at church who just love me” …where are the positive role models of healthy living for our gay youth in churches? I MUST get better. It MUST. And now he is dead.

Jamey’s parents chose to bury their gay son in his favorite outfit – including a t-shirt printed with the Lady Gaga mantra “Born This Way.”

Amen.

Jamey was lucky to have parents who accepted and supported their gay son.  Not all LGBT youth are this fortunate.  It sometimes takes moms and dads a while to understand what it means to have a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or tansgender child.

Kathy Verebiest – one of our straight allies – has written a powerful letter to the parents of Christian LGBT youth.  If you know a kid who’s struggling to survive because his parents are struggling to understand… send them this letter. Our kids need all the support they can get.

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Filed under Encouragement, Partners, Role Models, Supporters & Allies

Church Bullies?

A few days ago, a friend of mine on Facebook posted the following update:

“Today, I’ll try not to track down a bully, take a 2 by 4, sharpen it, & pound it up his rear with a croquet hammer. For I’m a man of peace. I will, however, rattle a few cages of some elected representatives who create anti bullying websites with NO ADEQUATE LAWS to back it up.”

My friend obviously isn’t Gandhi… but can you blame him?  Wouldn’t you also be tempted to find a few creative uses for a croquet hammer if a kid at school was making your kid feel like his life wasn’t worth living?

It’s been almost a year since the suicide of Tyler Clementi – a Rutgers student who jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate posted a live internet video of him having a sexual encounter with another man – brought increased national attention the “problem” of bullying among LGBT youth.

Those of us who work with (or are) LGBT youth didn’t need the death of Tyler Clementi – or any of the dozens of other youth who commit suicide due to bullying every year – to remind us that words can be even more dangerous than sticks and stones.  Dozens of studies – including this report from the Journal of Youth and Adolescence – report the effect of discrimination and harassment on LGBT youth:

40% of youth who reported a minority sexual orientation indicated feeling sad or hopeless in the past 2 weeks, compared to 26% of heterosexual youth… [the data] also showed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely as heterosexual youth to have considered attempting suicide in the past year (31% vs. 14%).

Adolescence should be a time of hopefullness, not hopelessness.  The church – one of the primary vehicles God has given us to communicate His hope to the hopeless – should stand as a sanctuary of peace and safety for LGBT youth.

Does yours?

Our friends at Lutherans Concerned/North America have developed a super anti-bullying curriculum that’s designed for churches who want to make both their congregations and communities safe(r) places for LGBT folks.  According to the promo literature, Where All Can Safely Live “was developed with the help of the staff at the Pacific Violence Prevention Institute, from the pioneering research on bullying by Dan Olweus, and materials created by the United States government.”

Interested?  Download a free copy of the anti-bullying curriculum (“Where All Can Safely Live”) here.

Reference:

Almeida, J., Johnson, R., Corliss, H., Molnar, B., & Azrael, D. (2009). Emotional distress among LGBT youth: The influence of perceived discrimination based on sexual orientation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 1001 – 1014.

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What every LGBT youth should know

Have I mentioned that I work with LGBT youth in New York City schools?  If not, let me mention it now.

I work with LGBT youth in New York City Schools.

Now that Labor Day has passed and Southern Ladies everywhere are saying goodbye to their white shoes, kids across the country are also headed back to school.  Last year I conducted an exercise with a few GSA (gay straight alliance) clubs where I had them write “one thing you think every LGBT youth should know” on an index card that I then shared with the group.

Their answers were stunning.  And heartbreaking.  And beautiful.  And encouraging.   I spent most of last spring walking into NYC classrooms with a handful of worn index cards telling gay kids, “this is what your peers in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan think you should know. Pay attention.”

Today, whether you’re beginning a new school year or starting a new work week, this is what your LGBT peers in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan think you should know.  Pass these thoughts along to the important people in your life.  Add your own ideas in the comments and I’ll paste them into the list and share them with kids this year…

  • People sometimes don’t understand.  Educate!
  • There’s always going to be those who don’t agree with your way of living.  You just have to learn to deal with it.
  • Take your time to come out.
  • Confidence may be difficult to find, but it’s important to be courageous and carry yourself with you chin up.
  • It’s going to be ok.
  • There are people who will accept you.  Not everyone is ignorant.  Also, those people can help you with any problems you have so don’t be afraid.
  • Your sexual orientation doesn’t change who you’ve always been.
  • It’s not that different.  Don’t’ feel like an outcast, because you’re definitely not.
  • You are normal, this is natural, and that there is someone out there that accepts and loves you no matter what.
  • There will be at least one person to accept and love you, so never give up.
  • It gets better.  It honestly does.  Surround yourself with positive people and positive energy.  Don’t let your sexual orientation define you.  Grow and flourish into who you want to be.
  • It is okay and perfectly normal to be who you are.
Cheers to you, kiddos!

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Filed under Encouragement, Opinions, Supporters & Allies, Youth Thoughts