Subject: Opinion
From: Julie Parmenter <>
Date: 7/24/2012 7:36 AM

Dear Safe Schools Coalition Members and Friends:


(1).  Family Acceptance Is Critical in Lives of LGBTQ Youth
(2).  Why We Can’t “Just Say No’ to Bullying
(3).  LGBT Youth of Color Have Own Mix of Challenges


(1).  Family Acceptance Is Critical in Lives of LGBTQ Youth

1). Families’ and caregivers’ words, actions and behaviors have a physical and emotional impact on their LGBT children,” said Dr. Caitlin Ryan, project director of San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project.  “Family rejection is linked with serious health and mental health problems for LGBT young people,” Dr. Ryan said. She presented research findings that indicated that teens that experienced high levels of family rejection based on sexual or gender identity were eight times likelier to attempt suicide than LGBT youth with more accepting families, as well as three times likelier to contract HIV or use illegal drugs than LGBT youth whose families exhibited low or no rejecting behaviors. Additionally, she said that teens that are pressured into “gender conformity” by their parents were at greater risk for several health and mental well-being issues, including being five times likelier to suffer from depression and almost four times likelier to attempt suicide than teens that are not pressed into exhibiting hetero-normative behaviors.  Read More.


(2).  Why We Can’t “Just Say No’ to Bullying

2).  My concerns are mounting about some of the emerging messaging and organizing around the issue of bullying, especially connected to the film BullyThe closing scene in Bully showcases a rally where people touched by youth-on-youth harassment release balloons and call for an end to bullying. While heart-warming, this gesture is far too simple a solution to a phenomenon that is steeped in and abetted by unexamined bias.

In our quick fix, short attention span culture, shaking a finger is not enough. Just like the much-parodied mantra of the '80s and '90s to "Just Say No" to drugs, simply saying "Stop Bullying" will never change deeply entrenched cultural attitudes.

I worry that someone who is subjected to endless abuse every day, with no adults standing up to challenge the culture of bias-based harassment, will choose the route of the youth who are (finally) honored and celebrated in Bully -- but only after they took their own lives. With suicide, someone finally pays attention, holds a sign in their honor, and chants their name with respect and love. But, only after death. That sends a horrible message, one that can, in some ways, make the option of taking one's life appealing, prompting what has been documented as "suicide contagion" by experts in the field.

Simply put, there is no way we will stop bullying unless we insist that the curricula in our schools address anti-gay stigma and the pressures to conform to gender norms. Until politicians of all political stripes stop vilifying the LGBT population. Until all "people of God" stop telling children they are evil.  Read More Here.


(3).  LGBT Youth of Color Have Own Mix of Challenges

3).  The significance of sexuality can vary greatly among different cultural and ethnic groups. LGBT youth of color are likely to face different challenges and stressors in consolidating their racial, ethnic and sexual identities than white, non-Hispanic LGBT youth.

Identity is influenced, in part, by such cultural factors as values and beliefs regarding sexuality, stereotypes about gender roles and expectations about childbearing, religious values and beliefs and the degree of acculturation or assimilation into mainstream society. The tight-knit family structures important to many immigrant communities and communities of color can make the coming-out process more difficult for some LGBT youth. As Trinity Ordona, a cofounder of Asian/Pacific Islander PFLAG in San Francisco notes:

"The families are the core of the culture. When a gay Asian comes out and gets kicked out of the family, it's like being severed from the heart. But if you get the family on your side they will stand and protect you."

For children, racial and ethnic identity is an important point of commonality with their families, which provide a vital support system for living in a society in which racism persists. Even when children experience hostility in the outside world because of their race or ethnicity, they come home to a supportive environment anchored by a shared culture.  Read More.



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