Monday, September 6, 2010

HOW MANY DEATHS WILL IT TAKE...?


From Michael Jones at Gay Rights/Change.org:

Imagine this as the opening statement of your latest school board meeting.

"Hi, I’m Tammy Aaberg, the mother of Justin Aaberg, who was a gay student at Anoka High School who committed suicide July 9th of this year."

Tragedy. Statistics on LGBT suicide are alarming, and when the numbers fly by -- that LGBT students are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers -- most of us take a moment to reflect on how hard it must be, still, to grow up LGBT.

But this tragedy gets even worse, at least when it comes to the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota. Because it's not just Justin Aaberg who committed suicide this year. It was two other LGBT students, too. That's three gay students in the span of one year who have taken their lives, all the while the school district has done nothing to open discussions about LGBT bullying or creating safe spaces for LGBT students in Anoka-Hennepin schools.

Read the rest of the post and links and weep. Watch the poignant video memorial that Justin's family and friends put together.

Why is it so difficult for the Anoka-Hennepin School Board to make rules to stop the cruel bullying? Why can't the board act like adults in this situation and take responsibility for making the schools a safe place for all students? Could it be that they're afraid of the reaction of the bigots in the community?

Obituary from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

H/T to Athenae at First Draft.

15 comments:

susankay said...

Jesus lives and cries.

And we are called to be damn angry.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Oh, Susankay, it's heartbreaking, and we should be damn angry.

Ellie Finlay said...

Yes, how many more deaths?

I've been on the front lines with this kind of situation and the suffering involved is simply indescribable.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ellie, I can't even imagine.

JCF said...

I have no words. :-(

[I'm lucky I had Band, back in high school (1976-1980): they were a fairly tolerant bunch. I was bullied in those years---but not nearly as bad as some had/have it.]

Joanna Depue said...

Christ will welcome Justin with open arms, not a cold shoulder. May his family be embraced by Holy Comfort. May we be moved and filled with the power to face this ongoing hate with love and loving action so that these all too frequent tragedies cease.

Counterlight said...

I second susankay's comment.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Amen, Joanna.

Jim said...

So sad and so infuriating. I am sure the school board is going to deny any culpability.

FWIW
jimB

Grandmère Mimi said...

I am sure the school board is going to deny any culpability.

Of course, Jim!

Cathy said...

Sad stuff.

After three deaths the school has no excuse for failing to thoroughly investigate what happened and deal with the perpetrators.

I do sometimes wonder though if bullying isn't difficult to legislate against or control. If the person being bullied understands that's what it is and can find it within themselves to take it to the authorities there ought to then be clear mechanisms for dealing with it. But bullying can be so insidious and the victims are generally made to feel it is all their fault. In fact that's the whole point of it.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Cathy, as I understand it, the young people who committed suicide were not all from the same school, but rather from the same school district.

School boards make rules all the time. Why not a rule against bullying gay students? True, many students don't take the message to the school authorities, but some do, and the powers should act decisively, when the matter is brought to their attention. And there should be rules to back them up, when they take action against the bullies.

Cathy said...

Mimi - my misundertanding on the school/district thing. (Three deaths is still obviously something they should be doing their utmost to look into.)

Re rules against gay bullying, that's exactly what I'm saying - of course there should be a rule against it and of course the authorities should act decisively if a case is brought to their attention. My other point though was that bullying can sometimes be hard to recognise, depending on what form it takes. I mean bullying generally - not just in schools, and not just against gay people.

Cathy said...

(In other words I'm not arguing with you Mimi ... I'm just saying bullying can be a very deceptive process. Which is one of the nastier things about it.)

Grandmère Mimi said...

I'm just saying bullying can be a very deceptive process.

Cathy, I agree.