Tag Archives: teen youth suicide

Legalizing Bullying

In the ominous news of the week last week, the Michigan Senate attached an exception to an anti-bullying law that was working its way through the state legislature. That’s right, an exception for bullying youth. The text of the exception read:

This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil and parent or guardian.

To clarify, the state senators wanted to exempt any individual who stated they were using their “sincerely held” religious or moral belief to bully others. This represents nothing less than another over-the-line moment of an increasingly strict fundamentalist, conservative few attempting to dictate its values to the rest of the country. In context with the attempt to redefine personhood in Mississippi (which failed on election day), destroy collective bargaining rights, and undermine the federal budget with still more tax cuts for corporations, the ability of state senators to validate harassment against children is a fine example of just how off the rails the GOP has ventured.  Read More…

Advertisements

It Gets Better: The Anniversary That Wasn’t

I was reminded yesterday that we’ve just passed the one-year anniversary of the It Gets Better project, that anti-bullying campaign from Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller. On September 21, 2010, they made their now-iconic YouTube video telling queer youth that they should hang in there, because someday things will be better than they seem right now. Dan and Terry had been catapulted into action, they said, because of the recent media attention on a number of gay suicides, all of which, the narrative went, came in context of those kids being bullied and harassed by their peers. That Dan and Terry were really only speaking about young gay men and not the gamut of youth on the LGBT spectrum, and that the media lavished its attention only on recent white gay men’s deaths was not a topic Dan wished to discuss, though I and many others attempted to do so. Read More…

The Silent Trans Narrative

I saw Kate Bornstein speak in Seattle last week at a book signing, and even though probably two-thirds of us had heard her story before, she told it to us. And once again I was subject to a familiar-sounding tale: that of confronting one’s demons, at the precipice of life itself.

I’m making it sound dramatic because in the final analysis, it is. I’ve spoken to dozens of people in the years before, during, and after my own transition, and in those stories, there are loads of differences. We come from divergent backgrounds, understand our identity in a multitude of ways, prioritize this aspect or that over others, and have created strategies for transition or for not transitioning (or for de-transitioning) that reflect ourselves. We resist the notion that there is a “Transgender Narrative,” namely, that we are all our chosen sex in the wrong body. Postulated decades ago in order to explain to non-trans people why we feel so strongly about our decisions to buck the gender binary, the “girl in a boy’s body” trope has pigeonholed the transsexual experience, and among the people I’ve spoken with, we hate its place in our community’s mythos.

But there is common thread I’ve noticed. In every single story I’ve heard, including Kate’s, we have contemplated suicide. Read More…

When dichotomies fail: the bullies inside us

More than a month ago the media began covering a few—certainly not all—stories about young LGBT people killing themselves. Actually, the majority of the suicides covered were of young gay men. But aside from a critique of the reporting, something else important was mentioned in almost every news report about gay youth suicide: they were the victims of bullying. Read More…

Unpacking bullying

In the early aughts I had occasion to explore the offices of the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, DC. By law, these folks must investigate every plane accident that happens in the country, even the very minor ones. It’s up to their discretion if they examine a railroad incident, car accident, metro train derailing, and so on, but of course they have all of the equipment they need to deconstruct the physical remnants of these human tragedies if they opt to take on a case. It comes down to the seriousness of the event and the staff resources at that moment. Read More…

Why I’m not gaga over “It Gets Better”

 

Photo courtesy of See-ming Lee

 

I wrote last week about the sudden newsworthiness of LGBT youth suicide. Certainly it’s been around for decades, and there have been and are people who study these people and these moments, but collectively, their work, analysis, and recommendations haven’t made it to center stage. So it frustrates me to see personalities emerge from the woodwork to tout their initiatives, as if we’re seeing a meteoric rise in suicide, or as if the world merely needed their guidance to avert the tide of anguish. Read More…

Some things just aren’t funny

There’s an entertaining show about cancer on Showtime, The Big C. This is out of alphabetical order with The L Word, an entirely different, and now completed, series about lesbian life in LA—and which shock of shocks, looks nothing like any actual lesbian’s life I’ve ever known. HBO has its pluralist wives show, Big Love, which hasn’t worked so well for a reality series, Sister Wives, over on TLC. Apparently The Learning Channel wants to learn us some polygamy? I’m not sure. But in this television is a window into our culture thang, there are some obvious disconnects, and not just having to do with the preponderance of overly made up, coiffed women near Rodeo Drive.

Four boys made headlines in the news in these last three weeks, four boys—one of whom was 18 but for all intents and purposes still had the thinking processes and responses of an adolescent—who took their own lives because of bullying, more specifically, anti-gay bullying. You’d think this sort of situation had never happened before. But that’s just because we’ve turned away from admitting we have a long-standing problem with youth suicide. Read More…

%d bloggers like this: