Connect with us

National

Is ‘bullying’ just an empty talking point?

Published

on

In an era freckled with ironies, this one stands out like a big red blotch. In a Politico/Morning Consult poll published Oct. 9, half of America’s registered voters supported President Donald Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. After three years and what many consider several impeachable offenses, the last straw was Trump bullying the president of Ukraine into finding dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter to help Trump’s 2020 re-election—or Trump would withhold missiles Congress already allocated for Ukraine’s defense against Russian advances.

The big red blotch? Trump’s wife Melania Trump’s stated mission as First Lady is her anti-cyber bullying #BeBest campaign. Yet she has continually ignored her husband’s bullying, including his mocking 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter. The Trump family’s Orwellian hypocrisy and profound lack of empathy has given permission to followers to imitate their heroes, resulting in proud, ugly national divisiveness and an uptick in hate crimes and bullying.

America in 2019 is in the throes of both a constitutional and moral crisis – one that particularly threatens the lives of vulnerable LGBTQ teens targeted by the hate effect of Trump and his minions. Nine years ago, on Sept. 21, 2010, out columnist Dan Savage created the “It Gets Better” campaign in a massive community response to an epidemic of six suicides by teens bullied for being or being perceived as LGBT. One month later, President Barack Obama posted a video lending his support.

“We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage; that it’s just some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all of our kids. And for every young person out there you need to know that if you’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help,” Obama said on Oct. 21, 2010.

Nine years later, the outrage has become a toothless anti-bullying talking point that has virtually ignored the LGBTQ suicides of bullied 16-year-old Channing Smith, a junior at Coffee County Central High School in Manchester, Tenn., on Sept. 23 and bullied 15-year-old Huntsville High student Nigel Shelby in Alabama who took his own life last April.

“With Nigel’s situation he was already struggling with his identity, so he was going through some stressful times. And depression is real. A lot of people don’t understand that depression is a disease. And when you have a kid who is already depressed and going through a lot emotionally, for you to call him names that you shouldn’t call him or say stuff to them, it sometimes has a worse effect than it would on a child who is not struggling with depression,” Nigel’s mother Camika Shelby told Huntsville station WAFF48 the day she buried her son.

Jane Clementi agrees. Her son Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University, died by suicide on Sept. 22, 2010, after being cyber-bullied. Jane established a foundation to honor Tyler and created the anti-bullying #Upstander pledge whereby signers agree to refrain from using bullying words and actions and stand up at any time and to anyone who is bullying another.

Clementi, who is based in New Jersey, flew to Los Angeles to ask an anti-bullying question at the Oct. 10 HRC/CNN forum.

“I think it’s all important for them to understand that, even though there are so many major issues in this world, bullying is a significant problem, I believe a crisis epidemic right now, and it is a life-and-death matter for many families, including my own,” Clementi told the Los Angeles Blade. “That’s why it’s so important, to have these conversations and to ask them what they plan to do about the bullying crisis. Bullying situations are a mental health situation.”

Neither Donald nor Melania Trump have responded to her outreach, though the top presidential Democratic candidates have signed her pledge.

“Our youth are looking to what our leaders are doing, and we need to change that,” she said. “It’s hard to reach out to Mr. Trump, because he ignores us. We did reach out to him to sign our Upstander Pledge, as well. He did not respond at all.”

The Tyler Clementi Foundation seeks to “teach people to be in the spaces with the same character that we are in person,” Clementi said. “My philosophy or mission is to empower the bystanders, whoever and wherever they are, to call out the behavior, because we can’t be the social media police or the internet police everywhere.

“I definitely think we are in a turning point,” she continued. “This is a critical time in our history, and we need to move forward in a positive way of inclusion and celebration of differences and making sure that everyone has the same protection and right as everyone else, just as our Declaration declared. It’s taken us a long time to really get to see that or achieve that.”

Bullying is a mental health crisis all 2020 electoral candidates should address beyond the talking points that pretend to feign concern. What’s the plan to stem the epidemic?

If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re a young LGBTQ person who needs to talk, call The Trevor Project’s 24-hour helpline at 1-866-488-7386. If you are a transgender person of any age, call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.

Photo: Tyler Clementi and his mother Jane (Photo courtesy Jane Clementi)

 

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

District of Columbia

Gay couple assaulted in D.C. by teens shouting ‘monkeypox faggots’

The men were treated and released at Howard University Hospital for head and facial bruises, with one receiving stitches for a deep cut

Published

on

Photo credit: Washington Metropolitan Police Dept/Facebook

WASHINGTON – Two young men appearing in their late teens shouted the words “monkeypox faggots” at a gay male couple walking along 7th Street, N.W. in the city’s Shaw neighborhood on Sunday, Aug. 7, before punching the two men in the face and head in an incident that D.C. police have called a suspected hate crime.

The gay men were treated and released at Howard University Hospital for head and facial bruises, with one of the two receiving stitches for a deep cut on his upper lip, according to one of the victims who spoke to the Washington Blade.

The victim, an Alexandria resident who asked that he and his partner, a D.C. resident, not be identified by name, said the attackers were part of a group of four or five young men appearing to be between 17 and 19 years old and two young women accompanying them. He said the group crossed paths with the gay couple around 5:40 p.m. in front of a store on the 1700 block of 7th Street, N.W., as the couple was walking to a nearby bus stop on Rhode Island Avenue.

The victim who spoke to the Blade said a nearby witness called D.C. police, who arrived within a few minutes as the two attackers and the other young men with them fled the scene. He said although an ambulance arrived on the scene, one of the police officers drove the couple to nearby Howard University Hospital, where they spent about six hours in the emergency room.

The couple had spent part of that 90+ degree day at the city’s Banneker Pool and later stopped at the Kiki gay bar on U Street, N.W. before taking what the victim who spoke to the Blade said was a leisurely walk from Kiki via 7th Street on their way to the bus stop, where they planned to take the bus to his boyfriend’s Northeast D.C. house.

As the couple walked south on 7th Street about a block from their destination on Rhode Island Avenue they crossed paths with the group of teenagers in front of a store that a D.C. police report says was at 1731 7th St., N.W.

“They were about 17 to 19 years old,” the victim who spoke to the Blade said. “And one of them started saying stuff like, hey, look at these monkeypox faggots and some not so nice stuff like that,” he said.

“We turned around to walk away and one of them came up behind me and got my attention and then sucker punched me and then hit me again and then hit my boyfriend in the face,” the victim said. “And another person hit him in the face as well,” he said. “And then someone across the street called the cops. And then the cops came, and they scattered off.”

To the couple’s surprise, the two young women remained on the scene and apologized for the actions by the guys they were with.

“So, I said something like thanks for the apology, but this is the kind of people you hang out with,” the victim recounted. “And one of them said their dad was gay, and they kind of walked away before the cops got there,” he said. “It was nice of them to apologize I guess for the other people.”

The D.C. police report lists the incident as having two offenses, a simple assault against the two men and a misdemeanor destruction of property related to the destruction of a pair of sunglasses worn by one of the two men that were damaged in the assault against him.

The report also lists the incident as a suspected “Sexual orientation – Anti-Gay” hate crime.

As in all incidents of violent crime, D.C. police call on members of the public to contact the police with information about an incident like this to call police at 202-727-9099 or text a tip to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE at 50411.

Continue Reading

Federal Government

Biden administration ends ‘Remain In Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers

DHS had held off lifting the MPP protocols until after the Supreme Court’s ruling and then until the U.S. District Judge lifted his injunction

Published

on

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas meeting with Honduran Security Minister Sabillon, July 27, 2022 (Photo Credit: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday that the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) colloquially referred to as the ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers at the nation’s Southern border has ended.

In a statement issued yesterday, DHS noted;

“We welcome the U.S. District Court’s decision, which follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 30th decision, to lift the injunction that required DHS to reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) in good faith.

DHS is committed to ending the court-ordered implementation of MPP in a quick, and orderly, manner. Individuals are no longer being newly enrolled into MPP, and individuals currently in MPP in Mexico will be disenrolled when they return for their next scheduled court date.  Individuals disenrolled from MPP will continue their removal proceedings in the United States.”

DHS officials had held off lifting the MPP protocols until after the Supreme Court’s ruling and then additionally until U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee in Amarillo, Texas, had lifted his injunction. 

“MPP has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said as DHS removed the MPP policy.

The DHS statement also noted that the Department will provide additional information in the coming days. “MPP enrollees should follow the directions on their court documents and tear sheets to appear for their scheduled court date as required.”

DHS continues to enforce our nation’s immigration and public health laws, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 public health order as required by court order. Individuals encountered at the Southwest Border who cannot establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed or expelled, the statement added.

Continue Reading

U.S. Federal Courts

Conservative group sues Iowa school district over trans-inclusive policy

The policy covers years 7-12, allowing students to freely communicate with faculty members and school staff about their gender identity

Published

on

Linn-Mar High School students attend assembly Spring of 2022 (Photo Credit: Linn-Mar Community School District/Facebook)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Ia. – The Parents Defending Education (PDE), a conservative right-wing nationwide nonprofit membership association, sued an Iowa school district in federal court last week over the district’s gender support plan approved last Spring by the school board.

The Linn-Mar Community School District (LMCSD) policy (504.13-R) covers year 7 through year 12, allowing students to freely communicate with faculty members and school staff about their gender identity. The policy protects those conversations from their parents if they wish.

The policy also states students and staff should identify a student by their chosen name and pronouns, and allow students to participate in activities as their assigned gender.

PDE’s suit alleges  LMCSD’s “parental exclusion policy”  violates violates parent’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. “Nearly a century of Supreme Court precedent makes two things clear: parents have a constitutional liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of their children, and students do not abandon their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate. The Linn-Mar Community School District is flouting both of these constitutional guarantees through its recent adoption of Policy 504.13-R”

The suit also claims, “The Policy authorizes children to make fundamentally important decisions concerning their gender identity without any parental involvement and to then hide these decisions from their parents. […] These actions can happen without any knowledge or input from the child’s parents. Instead, these decisions will be made solely by the child and “school administrators and/or school counselors.” And it is not just secrecy through silence. The District will withhold this information even if it is specifically requested by parents.”

“Linn-Mar’s gender policy demonstrates a deep contempt for the constitutional rights of its students and families,” said Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily in a statement. “It has been clearly established by the federal court system over the past 100 years that parents have a right to direct the upbringing of their children, and we are proud to fight on behalf of our members to put a stop to these unconstitutional policies.”

LGBTQ + advocates maintain the LMCSD policy is necessary means ensuring that LGBTQ students can seek help about questions they might have, and also protect them from bullying and harassment.

The lawsuit alleges though that the policy is too broad when it comes to bullying and harassment, and that it violates 1st Amendment protections for those persons who choose to not identify a student by their chosen gender or name.

Since the LMCSD Board passed the policy the community of around 6,000 people has been divided. One parent writing in a Facebook post on the LMCSD page: [Tina Gaby]

“I think every parent at Linn Mar that is uncomfortable with this decision can start with Asking for a separate partition for their child to be able to change in the locker room. Biological males and females have just as much right as transgender kids to feel comfortable”

Another parent, Joseph Stutler, answered: “Tina Gaby Or they could just learn to be decent humans and mind their own business in the facilities.”

The Linn-Mar Community School District did not respond to media requests for comment.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular