Mya Rodriguez                                                                                                              

Professor Ramos

English 1B

Proposal Essay

September 21, 2018

Safe Haven For All

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When you “come out” to the world, identifying yourself with the LGBTQ+ community, you never really know what kind of reactions you will receive in return. This is what makes “coming out” such a difficult thing to do, due to the uncertainty of how others will view you once the secret has “come out of the closet” so to speak. In America the view of this community is widely diverse and concentrated in certain parts of the United States. In effect, one does not truly know what kind of response they will receive; when most people come out they hope for the best. Typically in California, an announcement such as this to one’s social community is welcomed with open arms and a gay flag to match. However, not everyone’s experience is as jovial and picturesque as some movies portray it to be. Some people are abruptly welcomed by society’s horrid and vicious tendencies of harassment and bullying. This is an ongoing problematic occurrence particularly in school environments at all levels of education, where people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community are being bullied and tormented by others.

An occurrence of LGBTQ+  bullying was reported by ABC News  in March of 2012 where a group of six students who  identified with the community were repetitively bullied and harassed. Also, these individuals took matters into their own hands and sued their school district for not doing anything while the harassment occurred. One individual explained some  occurrences of how he was bullied which was done by other students shoving him, calling him names, and even urinating on him in the bathroom. The emotional effects of these bullying incidents caused the individual to hide under the seats of the schools school bus so he wouldn’t have to go to school. The LGBTQ+ students who were harassed,  later won their lawsuit with the help of Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, winning a total of two hundred seventy thousand dollars. Even though these individuals received money for their unjust treatment, it still did not remedy the emotional impact that the bullying incidents had on them or provide a plan in order to prevent matters such as this to happen in the future.

ABC news reported another  victim of bullying who was a young boy named Jamel Myles who lived in Colorado state. Jamel was only nine years old and starting the fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School when he came out to his mom. She openly embraced her son’s sexual identity and showed support towards him. However, his fellow classmates did not have the same accepting and loving attitude towards this news that his mother had shown him. His piers repetitively bullied and harassed him for being gay and even told him that he should go kill himself. Later on in the year, Jamel ended up committing suicide because of the vicious bullying he received at school. This innocent child was tormented and harassed in an environment that is suppose to make people feel safe and able to voice themselves without feeling ashamed or afraid of what others might say. Individuals attend school in order to educate themselves and grow their academic mindset; not to be made fun of for being different and told that they do not belong on this earth.

This is primarily due to bullying in schools and the help of social media which allows the harassment to follow the individuals home and torment them where they should feel safe. The effects of bullying have lead to serious outcomes which often lead to suicides or self harm. In September, 2010 an eighteen year  college student at Rutgers University, Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge (Burney, Melanie). After the investigation, it was found that his actions were due to the fact that his roommate recorded him having sexual intercourse with another male and streamed it over the internet . The National Crime Prevention Council stated that people who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community have a fifty three percent chance of being victims of cyberbullying (Burney, Melanie).

LGBT-Suicide

A rise of suicides and suicide attempts are skyrocketing in America and is sweeping the country. According to Mental Health America, individuals who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community are four times as likely to commit suicide than a heterosexual individual and are two and a half times as likely to commit self harm. Also, the Center for Disease Control issued out statistics from a pole in 2015 that ten percent of teens who identify with the community are threatened or hurt with a weapon on school property, thirty four percent were bullied on school property and twenty eight percent were bullied through social media.  A majority of the blame for these statistic is due to the fact that people apart of this community are actively targeted for being different and are made to feel that their diversity is an abomination to the world. When people are constantly made to feel that they are worthless, ugly, and alone because they are different than what some parts of the country would classify as socially acceptable, they commit these self harming acts in order to escape from their pain.

The consequences of bullying directed at the LQBTQ+ have become more and more severe and has lead to children as young as eight and possibly younger killing themselves because of it. This is why I am proposing that every school have a Gay Straight Alliance club moderated by a teacher or counselor who will give guidance to any LGBTQ+  individuals that is in need of help whether it is due to bullying or their home environment. In order to execute this type of implementation in school districts, this proposal must be brought to the attention of the superintendent of the particular school district. The club would be a formation of individuals who either associate themselves as a part of or in support of the community. This means it will give these students a support system and an adult ally when and if they face with bullying of any kind. According to Mental Health America, about sixty percent of LGBTQ+ individuals who were being bullied did not report the incidents to school staff and when they did,one third claimed that nothing was done in response. This will give students from this community a faculty member who they know they can trust to be accepting and understanding of their sexual preference and will allow them to feel comfortable going to them for help and guidance. The idea of a Gay Straight Alliance club in schools is supported both by the Mental Health America and the Center for Disease Control. This is  because it gives students a support group of individuals who they can confide in, rather than internalizing dark emotions and feeling alone when and if bullying occurs to them and in effect ultimately prevents suicides.

gaystraightalliance

Some examples of school communities who have implemented a similar approach to my proposal are the Anoka-Hennepin District and the province of Ontario. The Anoka-Hennepin District is the largest school district in Minnesota who decided to implement a type of support system for the LGBTQ+ community (Eckholm, Erik) . This began when the school district faced several lawsuits stating that no action was done about LGBTQ+ students being bullied and and a spike in youth suicides. The policy that was implemented was called the neutrality policy which states that teachers have an unbiased opinion and approach when confronted with matters regarding LGBTQ+ students. Along with the policy the school board will hire a full time official who will council and help students who are facing bullying and investigate further on how to prevent these instances from occuring. This policy was formulated to bring a better sense of security and safety for those who associate with the community. However, it faced major backlash from individuals particularly with strong Christian beliefs. They argued that by formulating protection for people of the LGBTQ+ community in schools it would encourage the behavior and give off the idea that being a part of the community is okay. Even though these support groups are being labeled after something that goes against some religious communities the school district of Ontario has found a solution to this problem (Eckholm, Erik).

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The province of Ontario issued an act which requires all public schools to have a club called Gay Straight Alliance with the exception of Catholic schools (Wachter, Dana). However, some private school have created clubs in order to address bullying of the LGBTQ+ community except they call these clubs anti-bullying or inclusivity clubs instead of directly using Gay Straight Alliance. The results of these clubs were positive and inclusive which in effect made individuals feel safer at school and have a stronger support group (Wachter, Dana). People of all ages should not be harassed or mistreated in anyway for one’s own sexual preference or identity, no reason at all should condone this type of behavior. Students go to school in order to learn and prosper in their intellectual endeavors. This is exactly what they should be focusing on and not worry about  being made fun of for being different or physically harassed if what they look like or wearing is not of the typical social normalities. Schools should provide a sense of security and safety for their students in order for them to properly concentrate on their studies and schooling. How many more suicides of children in elementary schools and college students jumping off of bridges are we willing to let happen before we take action? The problem of people harassing and bullying individuals for identifying themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community is happening now and now is the time to take action and put a stop to these types of heinous situations.

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Annotated Bibliography

A. Burney, Melanie. “Standing Up to Bullies.”Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 58, pp. 50-53.

I used this article because it gave an example of a LGBTQ+ bullying case which lead to the individual committing suicide. Also, I used this article to convey my message that there is a LGBTQ+ bullying problem in schools which can lead to life ending consequences. This article explains how the bullying of a gay college student lead to him jumping off a bridge and committing suicide.

B. “Bullying and LGBT Youth.”Mental Health Americahttp://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/bullying-and-gay-youth. Accessed 17 Sept. 2018.

I used this article because it gave statistics on the LGBTQ+ community being bullied. I used these statistics in order to express how much bullying is a problem in the LGBTQ+ community. This article gave advice on how to help with LGBTQ+ bullying and gave statistics on the topic.

C. Eckholm, Erik. “Minnesota School District Reaches Agreement on Preventing Gay Bullying.” The New York Times, 6 March 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/07/education/Minnesota-district-reaches-pact-on-antigay-bullying.html. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.

I used this article because it gave examples of bullying instances that happened on school property which I used to convey my message that there is a LGBTQ+ bullying problem in schools. This article explains instances where students identifying with the community were bullied so they later on sued the school district for not doing anything about it.

D. Gard, Cassidy. “9 year-old boy commits suicide after he’s bullied for coming out, mother says.” ABC News,27 Aug. 2018 ,https://abcnews.go.com/US/year-boy-commits-suicide-bullied-coming-mother/story?id=57427176.Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.

I used this article because it gave an example of a LGBTQ+ bullying case which lead to the individual committing suicide. Also, I used this article to convey my message that there is a LGBTQ+ bullying problem in schools which can lead to life ending consequences. This article explains how the bullying of a nine year old boy who came out as gay was bullied to the point that he ended up committing suicide.

E. “LGBT Youth.” Centers for Disease Control and Preventionhttps://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm. Accessed 17 Sept. 2018.

I used this article because it gave statistics on the LGBTQ+ community being bullied. I used these statistics in order to express how much bullying is a problem in the LGBTQ+ community. This article gave advice on how to help with LGBTQ+ bullying and gave statistics on the topic.

F. Wachter, Dana. “Catholic Schools Balance Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs with Beliefs.”National Catholic Reporter, 14 Aug. 2017, https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/catholic-Schools-balance-gay-straight-alliance-clubs-beliefs. Accessed 13 Sept. 2018.

I used this article because it gave a solution to areas where people went against Gay Straight Alliance clubs in schools because of their religious beliefs. Also, I used this article to give a solution to a backlash response to my proposal. This article explains how in London, Ontario catholic schools implemented their own version of the Gay Straight Alliance club by naming the club Anti-Bullying or Inclusive club.