Episode Information

WWL: LGBT Bullying
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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In this episode:

Bullying is a big problem in schools – but it’s especially acute for gay and lesbian teens


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40:56 minutes (19.65 MB)
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Bullying is a big problem in schools – but it’s especially acute for gay and lesbian teens.

A national survey from 2007 shows that nine out of ten lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered middle and high school students experienced harassment at school in the past year - and more than 80% felt unsafe.

Connecticut already has anti-bullying laws, but they make no mention of this population.

Coming up, we'll talk to students, activists and administrators about improving the school climate for all students, and we’d like you to join the conversation.


Listen below for audio from youth at the "Speak Truth to Power" press conference held at the Legislative Office Building on May 21, 2009.

Hannah Bochichio - How Parents Should React if Child Comes Out

0:53 minutes (0.43 MB)
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Joseph Ellzey - Leaving Home

0:51 minutes (0.41 MB)
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Joshua Ortiz - Paying the Price as a Gay Teen

1:08 minutes (0.55 MB)
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Royesha Mills - Poem and School Incident

1:05 minutes (0.52 MB)
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An alternative viewpoint

What is needed here is an alternative viewpoint to what has been said. First, more about bullying. Bullying policies should provide protection for *ALL* students, and not single out certain students. Bullying policies that contain a list of student characteristics, such as “sexual orientation” labels students and encourages others to do so. Such lists are unnecessary and restrictive because anyone can be bullied for any reason. Anti-bullying policies and harassment laws should not list student characterizations in order to protect all students. Policies and laws should provide protection for *ALL* students without reference to groups or classifications of victims. Every child who is bullied has the special right not to be bullied. Derogatory name calling is a form of bullying. Now, the truth about homosexuality. No one is born “gay.” There is no medical test for a “gay gene.” There is no scientific or DNA test to determine if an individual is homosexual. Sexual orientation is a matter of self-affirmation and public declaration. According to the American Psychological Association, scientists don’t know exactly what causes homosexual attractions. The American Psychiatric Association states that there are “no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology [cause] for homosexuality.” Instead, the evidence points to an interaction of cognitive and environmental factors. Now, about the victims that you fail to mention. Adolescents, maybe because of their appearance, are called “gay” or other names even though they do not have same-sex attractions. No one should be labeled “gay,” “sissy” or “queer” based on the perception of others. Appearance or other characteristics are not a reliable means to know what another person feels. Name calling and stereotyping may cause the victims to believe what others tell them about themselves, which may be completely false labeling and cause gender confusion for the victim. Other victims that you fail to mention are the teens who do have same-sex attractions but may choose not to be identified based on who they are attracted to. There are many teens who are working to overcome their unwanted same-sex attractions. Oftentimes, these teens are called “homophobic” or other derogatory words often used by gay students (and the gay community at large) to describe teens who want to rid themselves of unwanted same-sex attractions. Such name-calling can lead to depression, fear and feeling unsafe. Students who have transitioned out of a homosexual identity or decide to pursue alternatives to homosexuality, deserve compassion and respect. Their decision should not subject them to discrimination, ridicule, fear or hate. This viewpoint will most likely not be respected by the guests who participated in this show. I am disappointed by this but not surprised.

Listener Comment from Shawn

I think that GLESN and True Colors have done amazing work. I wish they had been around in the 70s when I was struggling with coming out.

Listener Email from Baylah

Hi, I'd like to thank John for doing this program. I was raised in Waterbury in the late 70's/early 80's and lived primarily with my lesbian mother and her partner. Needless to say, this was extremely taxing on me as a child in the Waterbury public school system, as kids are incredibly cruel, and it took me many years to develop a decent sense of self. I wish there has been organizations like True Colors available to me at that time. My question is, what can people like me do to help for the organization now? I'm not gay, but spent much of my young adulthood trying to answer questions of sexual identity and now would love to volunteer or contribute in some way to folks doing this great work in our school systems.

Listener Email from Randy

I am a veteran high school teacher with a learning disabled son. This allows me a dual perspective that speaks to the plight of the guest on your show today.

The bullying issue, as the host stated, is comprehensive because it involves a wide range of student types. I want to address two. Learning disabled and gay-lesbian students are uniquely kin to each other because of the language that is involved. Language used to reference both populations in derogatory language. Calling another student "homo" or "retard" is a put down. "That's gay" and "riding the short yellow bus" are common phrases used in an attempt at humor. This reflects a lack of sensitivity of both the implications of the language and the impact on the students in these populations.

Teachers play a key role in the prevalence of this language and therefore the resulting escalation. Many, probably most, of us are simply unaware of the impact of the aforementioned words and phrases. In the classroom, students will often use this language out loud with no intervention from teachers. This is de facto permission and acceptance of this language and by proxy the thinking behind the words. Once this line is crossed, it is often a matter of time before the situation and feelings escalate.

I am a member of a parent of kids with autism discussion board. The prevalence of the bullying of our kids is astounding and disheartening. I hope you will devote more time to this issue.

Randy Ewart
Gabriel's daddy