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Hosted by: Scott LaMar



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Radio Smart Talk: Pushed Around project on bullying -- bullying based on sexual orientation

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Apr 24, 2013 1:29 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, April 25:

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Recent polls have found that a little more than half of Pennsylvanians support same-sex marriage.  Most of the same surveys indicated only about a third favored it five to seven years ago. It's a trend that is consistent with what Americans are saying nationally.

For those in the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender communities, that acceptance is a reason for optimism.

That's why it is so striking to see the statistics on bullying based on sexual orientation.

According to statistics compiled by the Hazelden Foundation, about 93% of teenagers hear derogatory words about sexual orientation at least once in a while. Often, that takes the form of one teen calling another one gay or referring to something as gay, and they don't mean it in a positive way.

Meanwhile, 78% of gay or believed to be gay teenagers are teased or bullied in their schools and communities -- figures much higher than for heterosexual teens.

One-fifth of LGBT students have stayed home from school in the last month for safety concerns.

witf's Pushed Around project on bullying continues on Thursday's Radio Smart Talk with a discussion on bullying based on one's perceived sexual orientation.

Appearing on the program will be Jesse Gantt, Founder and CEO of The Foundation for Hope and Louis Marven, Executive Director of the LGBT Center of Central PA in Harrisburg.

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Jesse Gantt, Founder and CEO of The Foundation for Hope and Louis Marven, Director of Education and Youth Services at the LGBT Center Coalition of Central PA in Harrisburg

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Comments: 7

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-25 09:13

    To contact The Foundation for Hope call: 1 (855) HOPE-611.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-25 09:14

    Email from KIM:

    I spent over 15 years teaching in urban school districts - at all levels. These kids are very tolerant of other races - even through high school. I saw no one bullied or hassled in any way due to race.

    Sexual orientation, on the other hand, starts in elementary school and feeds on itself through high school. "That's so gay" is a term I heard hundreds of times.

    I am sure this starts in the home, but it is radically reinforced by peers, despite the efforts of at least some of the teachers.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-25 09:15

    Email from Francesca:

    My son is a seventh grader with Aspergers who thinks of himself as an ally, even if he might not use that term, and he is on a one-boy crusade to stop the boys in his class from saying "That's so gay..." and he tried to give his teacher a poster with alternative words. Yet what happens is he then gets accused of being gay himself, or having to defend the whole idea of homosexuality against boys who are avowedly "homophobic" and happy to say so, and without the social skills to navigate that kind of interaction, he just ends up confused and upset, which gives the other kids a further in to harass him.

    He's at a school that considers himself progressive, and yet he's pretty much on his own on this, since the debate is underground. And when he came to school on Halloween as Fluttershy (the My Little Pony), and got teased for wearing a "girl's" costume, he also received very little support.
    So sometimes its hard to even come out as an ally, so forget those kids who are themselves gay, or think they might be.

    • FoundationforHopeJG img 2013-04-25 09:56

      Francesca,

      First, let me express how overwhelmingly proud we are of both your amazing son, and of you. It is people like you and your son that make this world a better place for everyone.
      It is very difficult at times to be an ally of LGBT individuals and at times the challenges of Aspergers can present another target of bullying. Your son should be commended for what he is doing for the LGBT community. Please know that you are not alone. It is estimated that around 51,000 Pennsylvanians are living with Aspergers and there are more and more resources available for support seemingly every day.
      Bullying can have lasting and damaging affects for everyone, the LGBT community and individuals with Aspergers included. That is why The Foundation for Hope is very excited to include Sue Esterling, the Mother of a son with Aspergers, in our HopeSummit (a conference on bullying) on May 11th at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg. She will be speaking about Bullying specific to individuals with Aspergers. Francesca, we hope you and your son will join us.

  • Robert Colgan img 2013-04-25 09:42

    The words --labels-- we use to describe behaviors usually fail to capture the severity of the effects of those behaviors.
    "Domestic abuse," "bullying" : sound somewhat innocuous---but both are behaviors that can cause intense trauma in the victims, can and do result in the murder of the victims.

    We have a tool in the Pennsylvania Crime Code that is vastly underutilized by prosecutors and judges: STALKING.
    Stalking (PA CRIME CODE/Title 18/Chapter 27/ Sect 2709.1) is a CRIME when the intent of the bully is to cause substantial emotional distress in the victim or to place the victim in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

    It doesn't matter how old the victim is.
    It doesn't matter what the nature of the bullying is: physical, letters, signs, photographs, calls, name calling, cyber---all can result in the person being in great ("substantial") emotional distress.

    The key feature for prosecution is proof of a pattern of conduct: TWO or more times is a pattern.
    Everything should be documented, written down, captured and preserved as evidence.

    WHY the courts are slow to protect PA residents for stalking emotional distress probably is because the courts notoriously reflect the underlying attitudes of acceptance of such behaviors and continue to maintain the old attitude that unless there is physical bodily trauma there isn't sufficient evidence of harm done, which the stalking code redresses.

    The more the Stalking law (2709.1)is used by defense attorneys, the more the courts will have to begin changing their attitude toward bullying in all forms...the more people will realize that if they engage in bullying they can be prosecuted, fined or jailed.
    Regardless their age, gender, race, class.
    We're all protected under the same law.

  • TrinaB img 2013-04-25 18:13

    Congrats Scott on another fabulous program! I actually wanted to call and comment about adult bullying but my company has a strict no cellphone while driving policy so I didn't have time during the program. Bullying is everywhere! Even if you simply turn around and say something about a person to a coworker about someone else. If you can't say it to your face don't say it.

    Trina.

  • Alan V. img 2013-04-25 19:59

    https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/mr-mark-shue-issak-oliver-wolfe-for-prom-king-and-his-name-read-at-graduation?utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

    Red Lion High School issue of interest. Petition started by a satudent .

    I am writing to you today about an issue my boyfriend is having with his senior class. He attends Red Lion Area Senior High School in York, Pennsylvania and has made ample amounts of progress with his transgender process. This year most of his fellow classmates as well as some teachers call him Issak and acknowledge his transition. It has made him extremely happy to be surrounded by such an amazing support system. He had expressed to me earlier on in the year that he wanted to run for prom king so by the time prom season rolled around, I was not surprised when he began compiling a campaign and creating flyers. The amount of positive feedback he got back from his fellow classmates was overwhelming. Many people agreed to vote for him and it was almost a guarantee that he would end up winning. Issak is a very charismatic person and has been in charge of his schools' GSA as well as Day of Silence for two years now. He is very popular at his school and many people believed him to be a shoo in for the prom king position. On the day meant for voting, he went to school and at lunch time he made his way to the ballot to vote for himself. However when he got there, he found that his name had been switched to his birth name and put into the girls' category. Embarrassed and extremely distraught, he immediately went to the principal's office but could not meet with him. The reasoning behind the switch of the ballot was the doing of their new principal Mr. Mark Shue. His reasoning for not allowing Issak to run for prom king? He felt uncomfortable with it. Issak's mother, as well as many teachers and outside forces have taken ahold of this injustice and we plan to fight this decision with everything in our power. We are trying to bring attention to this story so that people out there in Issaks’ position know they are not alone, so that my boyfriend has the chance to stand up on stage wearing the crown he deserves, the prom king sash firmly across his shoulder. We must let Mr. Shue know that we will not stand for any discriminatory acts. Every one deserves to be treated with equality and respect that a human being deserves.

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