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Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Posts Tagged ‘Stacey Campfield

Playing Politics with Teens’ Lives

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An unidentified 15-year-old girl has succumbed to bullying in Livingston County, KY.  Her suicide brought the number of teens in Livingston County who have committed suicide to 3 in the past 5 months.  Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers recently struck down a bill that would’ve strengthened the anti-bullying laws there and could’ve saved her life.

Parents in Kentucky are picketing for zero-tolerance for bullying.  I applaud them.  I also think it’s time to get very serious with our political machine and let them know that their politics are costing lives.  I can’t put it any clearer than that.

Following the suicide of a 13-year-old due to bullying in October 2011, a 14-year-old girl testified before the House in an effort to get the bill passed that would provide greater protection for all students.  Sadly, however, Rep. Sam Waide (R) had this to say about why the bill was struck down:

House Republicans …blocked passage of the law on grounds it would place “gay rights in our schools,”

I’m of reasonable intelligence, with better-than-average reading comprehension skills.  What they said was that it’s more important to uphold their own anti-gay beliefs than it is to pass measures that will save lives!  HOW is that possible?  How is it that we’re allowing our political “leaders” to place their beliefs over human lives?  And, this isn’t exclusive to Kentucky.

  • Stacey Campfield, Tennessee, is still trying to pass legislation in Tennessee essentially disregards the existence of LGBT teens.  Worse, he wants to pass legislation that will sanction the bullying of LGBT teens.
  • There’s legislation in place right now, awaiting passage, in several other states that will also sanction the bullying of LGBT teens.  To clarify, the language of these bills basically says that it’s ok to bully an LGBT teen as long as it’s done for “religious, political, or philosophical reasons.”
  • And, we can never forget the disaster of Anoka-Hennepin.  The culture of hatred and intolerance towards the LGBT community there created by Michele Bachmann and her religious, ultra-conservative followers created what amounted to an outbreak of LGBT teen suicide in her district.

These are just a few of the extreme cases that we know about.  Whereas these three instances are bad enough, (and, make no mistake:  they are atrocious!), you can rest assured that there are more around the country.

Recently, one member of the facebook blog page voiced his concern that I was “bashing” the Republican Party on the page in the blog posts.  I’m all about equality for all members of our society.  One party tends to be for equality for all people; one party tends to want certain groups of people to, well, disappear.  Do your own math.  It really isn’t that hard to figure out.  That’s not bashing; that’s just reality.  And, trying to spin it any other way is as reckless and dangerous as their actions.  Period.

When protecting one’s political and/or religious beliefs become more important than protecting the lives of the people they were elected (read: hired) to protect, especially when said people are teens, it’s time for them to find new occupations.  Clearly, they don’t understand their job description of public servant.

Meanwhile we, the concerned and compassionate citizens, can afford to wait no longer.  Far, far too many lives are being lost, friends and families being destroyed, to continue to sit back and let this continue.  It doesn’t matter if “they” agree or disagree with one’s sexual orientation.  When “they” are willing to pass legislation that is proven will cause great harm to or, in this case, block legislation that will protect all of their citizens rather than just the ones “they” approve of, it’s time for “them” to go.  It’s that simple.  A life is a life, gay or straight.  They don’t get to play God and choose who gets to live and who doesn’t.  And, while on that subject, the argument of “it’s against God’s will…”?  Yeah, save that.  In that same Bible that “they” use to bash people, it also says that only God can judge.  If a person’s sexual orientation is truly against God’s will, let them and God deal with it on Judgement Day.

We Need Voices, Voices, and MORE Voices!!!!

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In Maryland today, Gov. Martin O’Malley made history by signing into law the same-sex marriage bill.  It goes into effect January 1, 2013.  And, before it even has chance to go into effect, before the first same-sex couple has the chance to tie the knot, the opponents are already in high-gear to get the law repealed.

Over the weekend, 18-year-old Cody Rogers was savagely attacked in a homophobic rage.  The only provocation was that he was who he is:  a gay man.

Stacey Campfield is STILL trying to pass legislation that would effectively legalize discrimination against the LGBT community, putting more LGBT teens at risk.

In that same state, Tennessee, a school principal resigns under pressure after telling gay students that they’re going to Hell!  A SCHOOL PRINCIPAL!!!

Newt Gingrich makes the assinine statement that TEACHERS are to blame for same-sex marriages!!!

ENOUGH!!

Understand that that’s just the short list.  I could go on and on and on ad nauseum.  The point I’m making should be clear:  the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance (and, ignorance) is very far-reaching.  With all of this lack of acceptance, bigotry, and utter ignorance, it’s no wonder we’re seeing so many LGBT teen suicides; it’s no wonder that a Cody Rogers can’t go to a party without fear of being attacked simply because of who he is.  The hatred is being taught by lawmakers, teachers, religious leaders, and in some cases parents.

Just moments ago, I was talking to an 18-year-old LGBT man who is trying to make a difference.  He had a girl he was talking to who was being bullied and wanted help making it stop.  She told her mother.  Her mother didn’t listen.  She told her teacher.  (S)he didn’t listen.  NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION!!!  Yet, as soon as one of these young people take their life, there’s the redundant outcry of “THIS HAS TO END!!”  Damn right this has to end, but what are we doing to make that happen?

People are denying, or attempting to deny, the LGBT community everything from the right to marry the person they love to equal protection under the law.  To be sure, Cody Rogers’ attacker was charged with simple assault for the very brutal and savage beating that Cody endured.  Why?  Because, in Oklahoma, sexual orientation isn’t protected under their hate crime laws.  How is this even possible in this country in 2012!?  Do you want to know how?  I will tell you.  It is possible because we, as a community, allow it to happen.  Plain and simple.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying:  we, the LGBT community, and society as a whole, are making enormous strides in the right direction, which is equality for ALL.  At the same time, it is my opinion that more can be done.  Lots more.

What’s needed is we need to keep increasing our numbers in the battle to win equality, in the war against bullying, and in the attempt to end this plight of LGBT teen suicides.  Since the time I got actively involved, I’ve witnessed amazing growth in numbers, and I’ve seen some great things come from it.  We can never be complacent.  There’s always more to be done.  Why?  Because for every gain we achieve, “they” are lining up to take it away from us.

We need voices, voices, and more voices.  Are you signing petitions when they come around?  Are you speaking out against the hatred and intolerance?  Are you supporting the Cody Rogerses of the world?  That’s what we need.  We need voices.  As the poisoned, culturally crippled faction try to undo everything we accomplish, we need to meet and at least double their numbers.  It would be a travesty of justice, not to mention just plain wrong, if “they” were to win in Maryland and get this new same-sex marriage law reverse even before the first couple gets to marry.  We can make sure that doesn’t happen.  As has been proven over the course of history, and as has been witnessed right here within the community of this very blog, there IS power in numbers.

Listen, we will win this battle.  I have no doubt about that whatsoever.  All around us, culture is changing.  People’s attitudes are changing.  Twenty-five years from now, there will be marriage equality from coast-to-coast and, most likely, around the world.  The social climate towards the LGBT community will have shifted to a point where gay and lesbian teens won’t feel such a sense of hopelessness that they feel they have to end their life.  That’s coming!  I have no doubt about that.  However, in the here and now, we still have plenty of work to do in order to get to that day.  I recall being a young man in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS epidemic there.  I remember watching friends die, literally, on a daily basis.  I became active with a group called ACT-UP.  My bosses were gay, yet they were very annoyed with me for being a part of such a group.  “You’re part of the problem!!!”  I assured them that they were the problem.  See, they had become complacent.  They owned their own successful business.  They had nice homes and enjoyed a fabulous lifestyle.  They had gotten their slice of the American pie, and they were satisfied.  The rest of the world be damned.  Sadly, within the next 6 months, all three of them had succumbed to the very scourge that I laid my body in the middle of the street for in effort to bring more attention to.

Don’t become complacent.  Stay connected; be involved.  We need your voice.

Is There Such Thing as TOO MUCH Emphasis on Teen Suicide?

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Incredible question, right?  Yet, I was recently told just that.  Actually, on one of the social networking pages that I was running, I was booted by the original owner of the page because I was putting too much emphasis on LGBT teen suicides.  TOO MUCH EMPHASIS!?

Research shows, clearly, that LGBT youth attempt suicide up to 4 times as often as their hetero counterparts.  We witness all-too-often another LGBT teen suicide in the news.  That says that there isn’t ENOUGH emphasis being put on the matter.

(as a side note, I was told by the owner of the page that “I’m all for gay-related issues…I have lots of gay friends.”  That’s akin, in my mind, to the old catch phrase “hey, I’m not racist.  I’ve got a black friend.”)

Just in the past month, we’ve seen in the news how certain politicians are attempting to pass bills that would make life even more difficult for LGBT students.  Stacey Campfield, (R) Tennessee, is determined to get his “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed in a district that already has an anti-bullying law in place that excludes discrimination because of sexual orientation.  The teen, and primarily LGBT teen suicide rate in Michele Bachmann’s district got so bad, a national publication thankfully ran a must-read article about it.  There are jurisdictions in this country that are still attempting to pass bills that would sanction the bullying of LGBT teens by adding the language that would permit the bullying if it’s done for “religious, philosophical, or political beliefs.”  That’s amazing in this day and age.  And, I can’t put enough emphasis on the issue of LGBT teen bullying and suicides.

To be fair and see things through her eyes, the owner of the page I was running points out that there’s many different forms of bullying:  bullying in the workplace and domestic violence.  That’s very true.  There IS an issue of bullying in the workplace.  And, domestic violence is very much a serious issue.  Bullying on all levels needs to be addressed.  We have a tendency to be a very mean-spirited people.  My only point, which I stand by, was that mixing all of them together in one place would be awkward, at best.  A community for ending domestic violence?  I’m on board.  Bullying in the workplace?  Sign me up.  Teen, and especially LGBT teen bullying and suicide.  I will die on the front line of that battle.  What rattled me, and rattles me still, was being told that I was putting too much emphasis on the issue.  There’s no such thing as the Easter Bunny; there’s no such thing as the Tooth Fairy; there’s no such thing as too much emphasis on LGBT bullying and suicides.

Stopping Intolerance in Tennessee

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As I was preparing to leave the house to go to work, I ran across this post from a girl who regularly posts in one of my favorite facebook communities.  It stopped me in my tracks.

I ask everyone to check this out. This is my home state, and I believe this bill will negativly effect the LGBT youth in TN. This will also prevent any LBGT facing discrimination to seek a supportive teacher for information. The bill has already been passed by the senate and the K-12 subcommittee. Give ‘em call?

It grabbed my attention because I love the things she posts in this particular community, so I always pay attention when I see her name.  It grabbed my attention because I’ve already written about Stacey Campfield’s myopic bill that he’s trying to push through legislation in Tennessee.  And, I’ve posted links to a petition put in place to get this bill killed.  This particular bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill will have a devastating effect on the LGBT students in their school system, in a state that has already had 2 LGBT teen suicides since early December.  So, I will post the link to the petition again and hope that every single person who reads this article will sign it.  Remember Power in Numbers?  We can change things.

By clicking the link in her post, “check this out“, you will see a list of phone numbers to call and voice your complaints and opinions.  Wouldn’t it be great to find out that their switchboards were overloaded with incoming calls on this matter!?  Whatever it takes.

Call it a “Call To Action”; call it “getting involved”.  Whatever.  I called it zero tolerance for intolerance and hatred.  This is “bullying” at a high level.  We can stop it if we all work together.

Written by Ron Kemp

February 22, 2012 at 12:50 am

Hunter Mack, 14, Recuperates from Suicide Attempt

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Friday was not a good day for school kids in two states on separate sides of the country.  There was Drew Ferraro‘s completed suicide attempt in La Cresenta, CA in front of his classmates.  The students of Cresenta Valley High School, many of them friends of his, were left severely traumatized and to try to make sense of what they had just witnessed.  Their recovery will take years.

On that same day, 14-year-old Hunter Mack, of Walpole, NH, made an unsuccessful attempt, also in front of classmates.  In Drew’s case, early reports say that bullying was definitely a factor.  However, in Drew’s case, it appears that depression was the biggest factor.  In both cases, the casualty list extends far beyond the victims, themselves.

Despite what some out-of-touch politicians and “religious leaders” are attempting to hoodwink us into believing, the fact of the matter is that this is an epidemic.  It’s taken on a life all of its own.  And, as is usually the case when the rubber really meets the road, it will have to we, the ordinary, caring, and compassionate people who will make the necessary changes to end this scourge.  It will have to be those people who have seen one too many young person end their life far, far too soon.  It will have to take the families and friends of past victims to honor their lost loved ones by continuing to reach out to others in hope that no other family, no more friends will have to go through the lifelong pain that they are going through.

We can’t count on our politicians.  Michele Bachmann, and likeminded religious fanatics in her district, virtually declared war on the LGBT teens who reside in her district.  The result has been an explosion of teen suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin district.  Stacey Campfield is busy introducing bills that makes LGBT teens sitting ducks.  His bills will make it ok to bully and abuse them as long as it’s for “religious, political, or philosophical beliefs”.  He wants it so that teacher would risk losing their careers at the mere mention of the word gay.  And, there are others around the country who are busy trying to pass similar legislations.

Religious leaders are just barely better.  And, to be sure, not all religious leaders are all-condemning of LGBT youth or the LGBT community in general.  Similarly, not all politicians are jackasses, either.

Still, the change that is desperately needed at this very point-in-time is going to have to at least START with us, the common folk.  We who care.  We who are right there on the battlefront watching the carnage.  The bright side of that it that there are many regular people in every size, shape, age, and color, and from all around the world!, doing their part to help bring this madness to an end.  And, indeed, things are being done, and progress is being made.  Young people are reaching out to other troubled teens.  Songs are being written; videos recordedHotlines have been set-up.  Online support networks have been set up.  Ordinary people who have just said:  “Enough is Enough!  How can I get involved!?  This has got to end!”  This epidemic must, and will!, be wiped out.

Until we reach that end, there will still be casualties, unfortunately.  But, as we continue to grow massively in numbers, and as we continue to bring global awareness to this issue, we will begin to see that casualty list decrease.  Until that day, however, we have to continue to fight like hell!  There are just too many lives in the balance to do anything else.

At this moment, 14-year-old Hunter Mack lay in a New Hampshire hospital attempting to recover from his attempt at ending his young life.  Let’s hope for a speedy recovery for him as well as healing for his family, friends, and schoolmates.  They all have a long journey ahead of them.

The Stacey Campfield Camp Responds!!!

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woke up this morning to the surprise of my journalistic life:  a direct response from the Stacey Campfield camp.  Actually, the unmoderated comment that was left is supposedly directly from Stacey, himself.  However, upon further inspection, and after checking the links provided, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he, himself, did NOT send me the response.  On the other hand, regardless as to who, in fact, sent it, it’s frightening to know that these are the “facts” these people espouse.  Worse, it’s detrimental that they seek to impose their terribly misguided “factual” beliefs on the public-at-large and, in particular, the LGBT community.  Allow me to dissect.

The responder started of for acknowledging my passion:  “While I apriciate (sic) your passion, here are some cold hard facts…”  Then, the fun begins.

On the issue of gay men having a decidedly shorter lifespan, this link was offered as their “proof”.  Their “documentation” turned out to be a far right-wing propaganda piece chock-full of the same old diatribe we’ve been hearing for decades.  In the first paragraph, it’s noted that “…evidence shows homosexuality to be a compulsion and lethal addiction, not ‘mainstream America’”.  It’s also noted that even without AIDS, “…homosexual persons will probably not live past their 40s…”  I can’t make this stuff up!  Read it for yourself.

As I suspected, and as I stated in the original article, At The Root of the Tennessee Madness, they are taking outdated information, in some cases from as far back as the late 70s!, and presenting it as today’s facts and reality.  How dangerous is that?  First of all, things that held true in 1978 obviously don’t hold the same validity in 2012.  But, more importantly, how dangerous is it to attempt to govern in today’s world using 1978 survey information?

Conclusion:

Study after study reveals that homosexuality, whether male or female, can take anywhere from 10, 20 to 30 years off of someone’s lifespan. With all the attention on smoking, which the National Cancer Institute says takes from 7 to 10 years off someone’s life, why not the same human outcry on homosexuality? Here’s a behavior that’s killing people 2 to 3 times the rate of smoking, yet nobody seems to care. In fact, we are encouraging and affirming individuals into the “gay” lifestyle. If you truly love someone, you would steer them away from self-destructive behaviors, rather than towards them, shouldn’t you? Homosexuals need our tough love, not blind love, the kind of love that is going to love them no matter what they say and do. We must extend that helping hand and say ” I think your worth saving, let’s work on it together.”

All of that, and I’m still only on the first link “he” provided.

So, where does his information supporting getting AIDS through “normal” heterosexual vaginal sex come from?  What’s his “scientific” proof?  Cecil Adams, touted as the world’s smartest human.  The world’s genius was asked, in December 1988, his opinion of how risky heterosexual sex was.  In 1988, the whole world was still trying to get a grip on what was really going on with the virus.  I know.  I was there.  I was in San Francisco during those days, watching my own friends die on a daily basis from a disease that we still hadn’t fully come to understand.  But, again, that was 1988.

So, to make sure this is very clear:  A U.S. Senator is taking someone’s opinion and presenting it to his constituents as “scientific fact”.  Worse, he’s using someone else’s opinions, masked as knowledge, in order to propagate his own bigotry and hatred towards the LGBT community, young and old.  Can I say again:  this is an ELECTED official!  I’m convinced that today’s elected officials have completely lost sight of the fact that, by virtue of our votes, we hired them to work for us.  They’ve got it reversed.  And, that needs to be re-examined.

And, finally, an attempt was made to justify his bill “Don’t Say Gay”, which forbids school administrators to say the word “gay” or even acknowledge their LGBT students as such.  The bill that, if not already implemented, could’ve potentially saved Phillip Parker’s life.

As for the reason for the interview (My bill on parental responsibility of teaching sexuality to very young children) Here are some points of view for you to consider.

 

-It is a parents responsibility to decide when a child is ready to grasp such a complex issue as sexuality and what they want to tell the child about that complex subject. Not a teachers.

 

- All children develop mentally at different rates. I do not feel a teacher with an agenda (Be it pro or con) is the appropriate person to decide “Now is the time” for an entire class of children just because they may think one way or another on an issue and want to espouse it.

 

-A teacher is not a trained child psychologist or psychiatrist and could do as much harm as good to a sexually confused child.

 

-I doubt many on the other side would want a teacher who said “Homosexuality is evil, dirty and wrong” just because they felt that it was what is appropriate, that it is what they thought the children needed to and were ready to hear. This bill ensures neutrality from teachers.

 

-Physically threatening behavior is what is and needs to remain covered for all groups. Not the sexuality of the victim. We already have anti bullying legislation passed in Tennessee (In fact I co sponsored it 2 or 3 years ago when it passed) so all children are protected from bullying in our schools. [this is in reference to the bill that would allow for bullying of LGBT students if done for "religious, political, or philosophical reasons".  And, they still don't get it!  No one is looking for SPECIAL protection.  And, we certainly don't present ourselves as a "special class" of people.  Equality means we're equal to every other person, not special.  In fact, THEY are making us that "special class" of people by singling us out to be victimized by discrimination in the job and housing markets and, frightfully, in the schools!]

 

-We do not need an un equal justice system that creates special separate classes of protected people that gets special protection under the law.

 

-Nor do we need to silence the first amendment rights of religious free speech of those in our schools whose family may hold different beliefs (as long as those beliefs are not physically threatening). [note to you, Rep. Campfield:  not only is it physically threatening to the LGBT students, it's costing lives.]

 

-While there is a scientific and educational need to mention the basics of heterosexuality when teaching the basics of reproduction (XY chromosomes, etc.) there is no scientific need to mention homosexuality as homosexuals do not naturally reproduce.

 

-We are falling behind the rest of the world in math, science, and English amongst other things. Tennessee ranks about 46th in most areas. Social engineering is just one less issue teachers should have to worry about teaching as part of their curricula.

That someone from the Stacey Campfield camp thought enough of what I said to take time to respond is encouraging.  That they have this view of reality is mind-boggling.  That they are passing their myopic, unfounded, and outmoded views on the people of an entire state is very dangerous.  So, again, I strongly urge signing the petitions.  Too much is at stake to wait for “someone else” to do it.

At The Root of the Tennesse Madness

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A couple things really bother me here.  First of all, how is it possible that one person as completely ignorant and out of step with the real world could be elected into a political position!?  Every single thing Stacey Campfield breathes about the LGBT community would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s damaging so many lives.

Rep. Campfield is the author of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the bill that doesn’t even allow for the recognition of the word gay.  His logic and reasoning behind that predates Anita Bryant.  It might even predate the neanderthals.  Certainly, it’s not in step with 2012 and the real world.  He’s clinging feverishly to an old, outmoded myth about homosexuality.  Now, it’s fine if he has those views and strongly believe in them.  That’s his choice and, under our Constitution, he has that right.  The line, though, needs to be drawn decisively at the front door of his home.  As a politician, as a human being, and as an adult, he should not be allowed to let his bias, his archaic views of reality influence and harm other people.  In this case, particularly, the lives of young LGBT people are in the balance.  Tennessee has had two gay-teen suicides within the last 2 months.  How many more lives must be lost before Stacey Campfield is put in check?  Don’t lose track of the fact that it was also Stacey Campfield who authored the bill that allows for the bullying of LGBT youth as long as it’s done for “…religious, political, or philosophical reasons.”  Your son gets bashed in the face at school.  The attacker yells “Praise the Lord”, goes to the office and collects his get-out-of-jail-free card.

Mr. Campfield is a bonafide threat to the well-being of every LGBT person in the state of Tennessee.  From his “Don’t Say Gay” policy to his policy of allowing realtors and businesses to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, Stacey Campfield is truly a danger to the community.

His latest diatribe, though, was at least humorous.  He enlightened the world with his revelation that AIDS is an exclusively gay disease.  According to Stacey Campfield, it is “virtually impossible” to contract AIDS through “normal”, heterosexual sex.  Again, the question:  “how on EARTH was this man elected!?”  I’m not even going to comment on just how insane that series of statements are.  You can read it for yourself.  It’s great humor.  Well, not really.  It’s actually rather scary.  Never forget that this man is in a position of power.  He’s a shot-caller.  And, he’s amazing ignorant.  Bad combination.

Returning to my “power in numbers” mantra, if you haven’t signed any of the three petitions calling for changes in the Tennessee laws, here there are again:

Our army is growing by leaps and bounds daily.  Now, we need to put those numbers to work.  Talking about change is one thing; being proactive in helping to bring about that change is a whole different animal.

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