(UK) - Homophobic abuse is endemic in schools, with "Gay" now the most common put-down by pupils in the classroom, teachers say. A "conspiracy of silence" in schools and colleges means homophobia is now seen as so normal that some teachers believe they risk disrupting classes - and making themselves a target of abuse - if they challenge students' behaviour. More than 70% of teachers have heard put-downs in their school or college that refer to sexuality, according to a survey of 268 teachers by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. In particular, teachers report that pupils routinely use the term "Gay" in a pejorative manner. Nearly two-thirds of teachers and lecturers have heard homophobic language on a regular basis. A quarter encountered it several times a week and about 16% of them daily. Boys are significantly more likely to talk about sexuality in a bullying way, but half of teachers have seen girls do the same and nearly 12% said they had seen similar behaviour in the staffroom.
Note: Read more on Guardian
(USA) - A freshman at a Minnesota high school had endured shoving, spitting, and name calling. When a hate message was scrawled across her locker, she decided enough was enough. Leah Matz, a 15-year-old student at St. Peter High, got together with some of her peers and organized a lunchtime demonstration to say that hate speech, and hateful acts of anti-Gay violence, would not be accepted. The school’s administration backed Matz up, allowing the public to attend the demonstration, which took place Fri., Feb. 8. Matz had come out as a lesbian in junior high. Since then, she had suffered anti-Gay harassment, including verbal and physical abuse.
Note: Read more on Edge Boston
(Canada) - Camp Fyrefly, a summer leadership camp for queer youth in Edmonton, Alberta, is riding high on a string of successes. The camp will celebrate its fifth anniversary this July, and it's all thanks to support from the local queer community, says Kris Wells, a driving force behind the program. "Our fundraiser [Feb 2] sold out and snowballed into the 'must have' ticket in Edmonton that weekend," says Wells, a researcher at the University of Alberta. Even Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel crashed the party. "It has been phenomenal how individuals and businesses have rallied behind the camp; they intuitively understand it — send a kid to camp! Our donors often tell us that they wish they could have had the possibility of going to a Camp Fyrefly when they were growing up."
Note: Read more on Extra
(UK) - A survey of 1,145 Gay and Lesbian secondary school pupils last summer by Stonewall found that almost two-thirds had been victims of homophobic bullying. Stonewall's survey found that 41% of respondents reported physical attacks, 17% had received death threats and 12% had been sexually assaulted. Sarah, 14, was physically bullied at her school. "Everyone knows and looks at me and threatens me and no one helps," she told researchers. "They push me in corridors and teachers have seen, but they act as if they haven't seen anything." "I have experienced bullying such as being verbally assaulted frequently, had scissors thrown at me, occasionally punched - sometimes directly in front of teachers," says Kevin, 16. Astonishingly, far from clamping down on homophobic bullying, half the respondents said the teachers themselves had made homophobic remarks.
Note: Read more on Guardian
(USA) - The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday demanded that a high school that punished a student for wearing a t-shirt featuring a Lesbian pride symbol apologize to the student and guarantee that it will no longer illegally censor her in the future. School officials at I.C. Norcom High School had threatened the 17-year-old senior with suspension because a teacher was upset by her t-shirt, which had an image of two overlapping female gender symbols. Bethany Laccone, the student, said: “I wear that shirt because I want people to know that I’m proud of being a lesbian and comfortable with who I am. And I have the same Constitutional right to free speech as any other student.”
Note: Read more on 365Gay.com
(USA) - An estimated 3,800 people under age 24 go homeless each night in New York City, but they blend in so well they are hard for social workers to find, according to the city's first-ever census of homeless youth. Three-fourths come from minority groups, with black youths accounting for nearly half the total and Latino youths representing a quarter, said the survey, released Friday. Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual youths were especially vulnerable, accounting for nearly a third of homeless cases.
Note: Read more on PageOneQ
(USA) - Michael Moreno, a 15-year-old 10th grader from Brewster, could not believe what he was seeing as he walked into the big hall at the Westchester County Center, and he grew quiet. There, for as far as the eye could see, were hundreds of boys and girls who belonged to Gay-straight clubs at area middle schools and high schools. "This is a great moment for him," said his stepfather, Hector Ramos. "He’s always felt so isolated."
Note: Read more on NY Times
(USA) - An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 homeless LGBT youth are on the streets in New York on any given night. And the National Alliance to End Homelessness maintains these youth remain more vulnerable to violence. They suffer higher rates of mental illness and are more likely to engage in sex work. The Washington-based advocacy coalition further estimates sexual violence rates are more than seven percent higher among homeless LGBT youth than their straight peers and are more likely to attempt suicide. Siciliano and other activists maintain the broader movement for LGBT rights must do a better job to address the plight of homeless LGBT youth. He pointed to the movement’s focus on coming out in recent years but conceded many young people - especially those whose parents are socially conservative or even homophobic - often do not take into account the possible consequences.
Note: Read more on Edge NY
(USA) - Over 100 people gathered in Grand Rapids last Wednesday night to socialize and raise funds for the Network's youth programs. Tony Wolfram, president of Network, said the event was necessary for the group's programs which currently serve about 50 youth from the area. "It was all brought home for me when I overheard a young woman talking one night," Wolfson said. "She said she used to lock herself in her room and cut herself. She had no support for being different. But then she said because of the Network she doesn't feel the need to do that anymore." This is the second year the Network has held this silent auction fundraiser. Last year the group raised about $12,000 and Wolfram said he hoped the group would raise more money this year.
Note: Read more on Pride Source
(Peru) - What was a procedural congressional debate yesterday on whether the Peruvian government would adhere to the Iberian-American Convention on the Rights of Youth - an international treaty that establishes a core set of legal standards to protect young people - became a heated debate on whether the treaty would open the door for same-sex marriage in Peru that exposed unexpected legislative support for same-sex partnerships. As a result, a vote on the treaty was shelved and the resolution was sent back to the Peruvian Commission of International Relations for further study. At issue, according to La Razon, were articles 5 and 14 which refer to language prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and the right to one's sexual identity and article 20.1 which speaks of the right to build a family - which some legislators argued clashed with the Peruvian constitution.
Note: Read more on Blabbeando
(USA) - The Trevor Project, the non-profit organization that operates a round-the-clock suicide prevention helpline for Gay and questioning youth in the US, today announced that two-time Academy Award(R)-winning actress Jodie Foster will present The Trevor Founders Award at the organization's annual Cracked Xmas event. Ms. Foster will present the award to two of the organization's founders, director Peggy Rajski and screenwriter James Lecesne. The award will be presented in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the first Cracked Xmas benefit and in memory of the organization's third founder, producer Randy Stone, who passed away unexpectedly in February of this year. The presentation will take place at Cracked Xmas 10, to be held on December 2, 2007 at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.
Note: Read more on Melodika
(UK) - "I have had beer thrown at me and poured all over me, pushed, shoved, verbally abused – every word imaginable, cornered, surrounded and threatened in public … and that’s just me." These are the very words of a Gay pupil writing about his experiences at a top independent school in an email that arrived in the UK Gay News inbox on Friday. The email’s 'Subject': Homophobia at Christian Boarding School. "I am sick of them and their abusive attitudes and behaviour," he wrote of his tormentors. "People liken homosexuality to paedophilia and they get away with it," he continues. "People have said in front of teachers 'I hate gay people' and nothing’s happened."
Note: Read more on UK Gay News
(UK) - Gay rights campaigners have clashed with Belfast's Rape Crisis Centre over plans to lower the age of sexual consent to 16. The British government has published proposals to bring Northern Ireland's legal process, under which it is illegal for 16-year-olds to have sex, into line with the rest of the UK. The centre has joined a loose alliance with the Catholic church, evangelical Protestant churches and Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party to oppose the proposed change from 17 to 16. Ranged against them are organisations representing the Gay community.
Note: Read more on Guardian
(Canada) - A popular Ajax teen who would have turned 14 tomorrow hanged himself at home after being viciously cyber-bullied by classmates about being Gay, his stepmother Sandria Gillard says. Gillard said the boy, who loved school and was a popular student, wanted to be a movie producer. His problems began after he told a trusted friend he was Gay. The friend told others at school and outed Shaquille in June on websites created by students for bullying. "They began calling him names and sending him ugly e-mails," Gillard said. "He couldn't hide from them and he didn't let others know." She said Shaquille was stuffed into a garbage can by students at his school just days before he committed suicide. "I am confused and looking for some answers," Gillard said. "He was right before me on the computer and next thing he's dead."
Note: Read more on Toronto Sun
(USA) - To counter that knots-in-your-stomach feeling and to give more students a better sense of community, David Leimsieder started the Imagine Project during his senior year. Formerly called the Association of Allied Gay-Straight Alliances, it helps students around the state set up Gay-straight organizations at their schools. Its goals are to fight homophobia and anti-Gay violence while empowering students to continue in school. "We wanted to create a base for students to create their own support system," said Leimsieder, the nonprofit's volunteer director. "It was important for them to know they don't have to be alone." Leimsieder, who came out to his parents when he was 15, said the Gay-straight alliance group at Catalina helped him feel stronger and more confident.
Note: Read more on azstarnet.com
(USA) - This may be the last free Thanksgiving dinner for the Boy Scouts of Philadelphia. Citing a local 1982 "fair practices" law, the city solicitor has given the Scouts until Dec. 3 to renounce its policy of excluding homosexuals or forfeit the grand, Beaux-Arts building it has rented from the city for $1 a year since 1928. "While we respect the right of the Boy Scouts to prohibit participation in its activities by homosexuals," the solicitor, Romulo Diaz, said last week in an interview, "we will not subsidize that discrimination by passing on the costs to the people of Philadelphia." The city has yet to complete an official assessment of the property.
Note: Read more on Washington Post
(USA) - A lawsuit over the Gay-Straight Alliance of Okeechobee High School could be settled if students agreed to change the name of the club, according to lawyers for the Okeechobee County School Board. But a lawyer for the ACLU, which represents the club, said its members already have rejected the idea of changing the name. "The students have made clear that the name of the club is important to them because it describes their mission," said Robert Rosenwald, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union. "From the beginning, the purpose of this club has been to prevent harassment and discrimination against Gay students." Attorneys for the school board have argued that the Gay-Straight Alliance is a "sex-based club" that violates a Florida statute requiring schools to teach abstinence "while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage."
Note: Read more on Miami Herald
(Canada) - Every year, Grade 9 students anticipate it with a mixture of dread, curiosity and giggles. Teachers sweat over it. Parents have both advocated for it and damned it. It's sexual education and it's lurking in the background of the public education psyche. Sex ed is mandatory, part of a physical education course taken by every Ontario high school student in Grade 9. However, the terms "Gay," "Lesbian," "Trans," "Queer," "same-sex," or "homosexual," are absent from the official documents. In other words, the sexual education curriculum, which sets the standard for what children learn about sex and sexuality in high school, makes no references to the queer community. That gives an out to Ontario schools who want to give out diplomas but don't want to teach about Gays.
Note: Read more on xtra.ca
(UK) - Two Gay teenagers from Scotland are considering legal action after being humiliated on a late-night bus journey. Steven Black, 16, and Mark Craig, 19, were told to get off the bus by the driver and then forced to sit in separate seats, according to the Sunday Mail. "If we had been all over each other, I could understand - because that behaviour in public is not appropriate whatever your sexuality. But Mark just had his arm around my shoulder," Steven told the paper. "I have never been so humiliated in my life. I just can't believe we are still made to feel like second-class citizens."
Note: Read more on Pink News
(USA) - New billboards around town are likely to turn heads with their image of an unhappy teen lying on a couch and the question: "Who's sofa surfing tonight?" The ad, also to appear on buses and movie screens, aims to raise awareness about homeless teens who move from sofa to sofa of friends, relatives and strangers. "These are not someone else's kids. They are very much like our own," said Joyce Mazero, chairwoman of the board of directors for Promise House, an Oak Cliff nonprofit agency that helps homeless youth. "However, these teens are invisible." Up to 40 percent of the runaway population are Lesbian or Gay youth who have been kicked out because of their sexual orientation.
Note: Read more on Dallas News