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Disturbing Picture of How We Treat One Another

Some events and reports have hit the news recently, and combined in my mind to create a disturbing picture of how we sometimes treat one another.  We all need to step up and help when we see something happening that is just wrong.  These events and reports also demonstrate the importance of having inclusive laws against hate crimes, bullying, and discrimination.  This means laws that not only include sexual orientation, but also include gender identity and gender expression, so that we do not leave our transgender friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members behind.

One of the recent events was the beating of a transgender woman on April 18th at a McDonald’s in Baltimore by a couple of customers, while the employees and other customers stood by.  This type of violence is, tragically, not that uncommon for transgender people and is often under-reported.  This particular event was video taped and went ‘viral’ on the Internet so many of us did hear about it.  Apparently the trouble began with the victim using the restroom.   This also came on the heels of the Baltimore legislature failing to pass an anti-discrimination bill that included gender identity.

Why is it that our society wants to put everyone in ‘boxes’ – such as male or female – so much that when someone does not fit into either box they are perceived as a threat, and misguided individuals feel compelled to commit physical violence against them?  Also, why are people reluctant to help and stop the violence? I wish I had the answers.

Recent news has also included a couple of reports, which contribute to my feelings of unease .  One was a study published by Dr. Hatzenbuehler,  in the journal Pediatrics, that showed a correlation between youth suicide with areas that have few resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.  From the results of the study: “A more supportive social environment was significantly associated with fewer suicide attempts…“

Here is a link to the abstract of the study:
http://tinyurl.com/3auk2er

The Trevor project stated the results of this study match with their experience in operating a 24/7-crisis intervention lifeline – they get more calls from conservative areas.

Here is an article in the Huffington Post that talks about the Trevor Project and the study:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-fishberger-md/gay-suicide_b_851107.html

The other report was about the work of some conservative religious folks to actively prevent anti-bullying laws that include gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth.  “An increasing number of conservative leaders and organizations have fiercely opposed anti-bullying programs developed by schools and education groups for the sole reason that such programs identify and attempt to combat the widespread bullying of LGBT youth.”  From the report’s conclusion: “Ignoring the clear signs of bullying directed towards gay and gay-perceived students does more than perpetuate the problem and lend undeserved credibility to Religious Right attacks on LGBT people and their allies. It undermines the creation of safe and welcoming schools, and puts the well-being and the very lives of American students at risk.”

Here is a link to the full article:
http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/big-bullies-how-the-religious-right-trying-to-make-schools-safe-for-bullies-and-dangero

This all makes me glad that there are some good things happening in Kitsap County.   We have Gay Straight Alliances at many of our local schools, as well as the work of the Kitsap Safe Schools Network.  Also, our local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth have a Q Center.  We are not free of problems, though, because the students here still experience bullying on a regular basis.  An article in the Central Kitsap Reporter about the local Q Center and some of the youth it supports talks about this:
http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/kitsap/ckr/lifestyle/104597154.html

Please remember  – Victims of bullying, violence and suicide are our fellow human beings, too often young people, and they are they being left out of legislation, kicked out by their parents, bullied in their schools, and too many are enduring enough abuse that they decide to end their lives.  Have some respect and compassion – It takes all of us to speak out against this hatred-driven violence and abuse.

Some useful links, if you want tools to help:

The Trevor Project
http://www.thetrevorproject.org

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17th)
http://www.dayagainsthomophobia.org

National Center for Transgender Equality
http://transequality.org

Kitsap Safe Schools Network
http://www.kitsapsafeschools.org

The Safe Schools Coalition
http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org

Kitsap Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
http://www.kitsappflag.org

National Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
http://www.pflag.org

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