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Anti-Gay and -Lesbian Bullying and Discrimination
Darcy Cohan,
Topics: LGBTQ

imagesControversy sparked in New York City earlier this month when a Harlem church posted a sign advocating violence against homosexuals. Meanwhile, Westboro Baptist Church, famous for its extreme ideologies against the LGBT community, is in the headlines again with the recent death of its founder Fred Phelps. Sadly, reports of discrimination against gay and lesbian people are not uncommon, but these particular displays of intolerance are newsworthy primarily because of the extremist positions they advocate. Today, most Americans (68 percent) believe that gay and lesbian people face a lot of discrimination in the United States.

For many younger gay and lesbian people, discrimination often comes in the form of bullying. The widely discussed death of Tyler Clementi in 2012 was one case that opened up a national discussion about anti-gay attitudes toward and bullying of gay and lesbian youth. Today, nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans agree that bullying of gay and lesbian teenagers is a major problem in schools.

National coverage about the dangers of bullying in schools has increased in recent years. Last month it was reported that mental and physical health issues can persist in victims even after bullying stops and research from 2013 found that bullying is linked to suicide and depression in adulthood.

Various efforts to support gay and lesbian victims of bullying and discrimination have taken place in recent years. In 2010, the “It Gets Better Campaign,” which aims to promote a message of hope to LGBT youth, was started in response to the suicide of 15-year-old Billy Lucas. More recently, the Los Angeles Times editorial board called for the passage of a revision to No Child Left Behind which would include a protection against discrimination based on perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Given the widespread public concern over anti-gay discrimination in America, it is likely that similar measures would receive popular support today.