Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

SF youth commission, Obama voice support for young LGBTs

San Francisco’s Youth Commission passed a resolution this week addressing the recent suicides of several youths across the country who were reportedly the victims of anti-gay bullying.

In addition, President Barack Obama has added a video to the thousands of others appearing on the It Gets Better site designed to support youth.

In his message, added Thursday, October 21, Obama says anti-gay bullying shouldn’t be tolerated and says, “You are not alone. You did not do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied.” In the video, the president wears a lavender tie

Recent deaths include 13-year-old Seth Walsh, of Tehachapi, California, who died in September, nine days after hanging himself. He’d apparently been bullied for being perceived as gay.

The San Francisco commission’s 17 members voted unanimously for the resolution Monday, October 18.

“My heart goes out to the families of those youth who have taken their own lives,” said Lily Marshall-Fricker, a 15-year-old commissioner and the primary author of the resolution, in a statement released October 21. “These painful events make it plain that there is so much more to be done to make tolerance and acceptance a reality for queer young people.  As the statistics in our resolution bear out, there is still a lot of work to be done even right here in San Francisco.”

The resolution cites data illustrating the challenges faced by the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning students. For example, more than half of the San Francisco Unified District’s LGBTQ students reported being bullied or harassed due to their sexual orientation. Over eight out of 10 students had heard derogatory statements based on sexual orientation in the previous school year, according to SFUSD survey data.

But the resolution also acknowledges the city’s “robust” support system for students.

“LGBTQ young people in San Francisco are supported by a number of institutions that are very queer-friendly,” stated Tobias Hirano, another youth commissioner. “Our Mayor and Board of Supervisors and Board of Education have consistently reaffirmed the importance of a social safety net for LGBTQ youth, especially mental health and youth support services.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 22, 2010 @ 10:58 am PST
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