String of tragic suicides brings to light the needs of LGBT students at NSU
Seven teen suicides since July–six of which occurred in September–have prompted national discussion about what led to the deaths of Asher Brown, 13; Seth Walsh, 13; Billy Lucas, 15; Justin Aaberg, 15; Cody Barker, 17; Tyler Clementi, 18; and Raymond Chase, 19.
Reports that each teenager had repeatedly been bullied because of sexual orientation have fueled a public outcry against the harassment of gay youth. But what can our NSU community do to help?
Let’s start by considering it a wake-up call for all students, faculty, staff, and administrators, said Angie Freeman, NSU graduate assistant and advisor to the university’s Gay-Straight Student Alliance.
“It is important that we create a safe and inclusive environment for all students and provide them with resources and support to avoid similar results,” Freeman said. “I find this incident to be very sad and disturbing, as some society members stand back and do nothing to prevent such tragedies as this from happening to our students.”
Freeman offered the following suggestions to help prevent the occurrence of a similar tragedy at NSU:
- Provide resources to students.
- Intervene appropriately to address negative incidents or comments against people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT).
- Display a “Safe Zone” sticker in your office or on your door to signify a safe place for students to talk and seek support.
- Encourage students to join the Gay-Straight Student Alliance.
She offered the following statistics as a snapshot of the current climate that LGBT students face, on our campus and across the country:
- LGBT students are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counter parts.
- 65 percent of students report having been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted at school during the past year because of their actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, or gender expression.
- 26 percent of LGBT youth are thrown out of their homes when parents learn they are gay.
- About 75 percent of students hear derogatory slurs in reference to sexual orientation.
For more information, visit:
- Safe Schools South Florida: http://safeschoolssouthflorida.org/resources.htm
- Gay Lesbian Straight Educational Network: http://www.glsen.org
- Lambda Legal: http://www.lambdalegal.org
To contact NSU’s Gay-Straight Student Alliance, email Angie Freeman at email@example.com.