If you've paid any attention to national headlines and Facebook status updates lately, you're sure to have noticed a sad trend: six young males took their own lives recently after being bullied either because they were gay or their attackers thought they were. The deaths have led to a new push in schools, including here in Colorado, to look for solutions—everything from teaching to new laws—to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered kids, writes The Denver Post.
"We are certainly hoping this is a wake-up call to school administrators, parents, political leaders, and media that this problem has been going on for some time, that there is a severe suicide problem amongst LGBT youth," says Jason Marsden, executive director of the Denver-based Matthew Shepard Foundation.
Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who recently committed suicide, was tormented online, which happens, to varying degrees, to about 40 percent of kids in the United States, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center (via Fox 31).
Yet the renewed attention to how kids with different sexual orientations are treated hasn't prompted Focus on the Family to back off its anti-gay campaign, reports the Colorado Springs Gazette, which points out that the national debate has centered on conservative Christian rhetoric. While anti-bullying advocates say shame and violence keep gays and lesbians repressed, ministries like Focus say they oppose bullying but continue to object to groups that advocate gay-friendly lesson plans.