SoCal Groups Fight Against Gay Bullying

Gay support group wants schools to enforce the law for safety sake

The fight against hate is ramping up.

Several organizations and groups across the country have stepped up campaigns against anti-gay discrimination and bullying, following a rash of gay teen suicides in recent weeks.

The Los Angeles LGBT Youth Advocate Coalition (YAC) is calling upon the next Superintendent of Public Instruction, once sworn into office, to mandate that all school superintendents in California train their staffs on the importance of ending LGBTQ-biased bullying as mandated by the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act, which was passed in 2000.

Last month, a 13-year-old boy named Seth Walsh went out to the backyard of his house in the small town of Tehachapi, Calif., and hanged himself.

During the investigation, many students acknowledged that Walsh was in distress due to bullying over a long period of time because Walsh was gay, SF Gate reports.

In a press release, YAG said they believed that Walsh's death might have been prevented if the staff of his school had been educated on the importance of ending LGBTQ-biased bullying.

Anti-gay bullying has been in the spotlight recently after the suicides of several gay teenagers, including Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, garnered national attention.

According to police, the 19-year-old jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly recorded him with another male student and distributed video online.

Meanwhile, Facebook is working with a gay-advocacy group to reduce the amount of hate speech and bullying on the online social hub.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said it reached out to Facebook last week after Internet bullies flooded a page set up to honor teens who recently killed themselves in response to anti-gay hate.

Facebook said it has systems in place to take down such posts as soon as possible, but the company also said it wants its users to be able to express unpopular opinions.

They say they must strike a careful balance between removing harmful content and letting people speak freely.

And one politician in Texas is speaking out freely.

A video by Joel Burns has gotten more than 600,000 hits on YouTube, as the Fort Worth, Texas city councilman pleads with gay teens not to commit suicide.

Burns made the appeal during a 12-minute speech to the council on Tuesday, and he tearfully recounted his own ordeal as a bullied schoolboy.

In the speech, which was videotaped and put on YouTube, he says gay teens should give themselves a "chance to see how much life will get better."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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