Schools suicide surge after Rutgers University incident. Teen suicide in schools is on the rise as four teens killed themselves after anti-gay bullying. The surge started after the Tyler Clementi suicide.
School officials nationwide are beginning to re-evaluate their methods of dealing with bullying. In this process, they are risking entanglement in a bitter ideological debate. Supporters of Gay-rights feel that any productive anti-bullying program should include specific components addressing harassment of gay youth.
However, religious conservatives condemn the approach as an unnecessary and manipulative tactic to sway young people’s views of homosexuality. This is proving to be a highly emotional topic for many. Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District is receiving hate mail from both sides as they review their anti-bullying strategies in the aftermath of a gay student’s suicide.
“We believe the bullying policy should put the emphasis on the wrong actions of the bullies and not the characteristics of the victims,” stated Chuck Darrell of the conservative Minnesota Family Council.
According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, “That’s a wrongheaded, potentially dangerous approach.” GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. “Policies have to name the problem in order to have an impact,” stated GLSEN’s executive director, Eliza Byard. “Only the ones that name it see an improvement.”