Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Speaker Perez posts video message to gay teens as he urges UC officials to address bullying issues

The openly gay speaker of California’s Assembly posted a video message to gay teens online today (Wednesday, November 24) telling them to remain hopeful about their futures. Assemblyman John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) is also urging higher education officials to address anti-LGBT bullying on campuses throughout California.

Perez is the first of the state’s LGBT lawmakers to add a video to what is known as the “It Gets Better” campaign on YouTube, created by gay Seattle journalist and parent Dan Savage. He started it this fall in reaction to a slew of news reports on LGBT teens committing suicide.

In his video, titled “It Absolutely Gets Better,” Perez talks about his coming out to his family one Thanksgiving holiday while a student at the University of California at Berkeley. He said he was lucky because his family accepted his being gay.

“The rash of suicides we’ve seen in the past year have been nothing short of heartbreaking in every sense of the word. The particulars are the same in every case, where the kid felt so lonely and isolated and had no hope for the future to the point where they felt the only answer was taking their own life,” stated PĂ©rez in a release announcing his participation in the video project. “The It Gets Better series is a way for each of us who struggled with the same issues to reach out to the kids and let them know how wonderful and special and not alone they are. I chose to do this video now because with the holiday season approaching it’s more critical than any other time of the year to send the kids a message of hope.”

Following the suicide of a Rutgers University student whose roommate allegedly simulcasted on the Internet his having sex with another male student, Perez this week also sent a letter to officials at both the UC and California State University systems asking them to review their policies and programs for protecting all students and providing them with safe learning environments.

As speaker Perez serves as a UC regent and a trustee of the state university system. He has requested that both oversight panels discuss what their current policies are regarding student privacy and how the various campuses responded to the incident at Rutgers.

“California’s institutions of higher learning have taken steps to promote a safe and inclusive campus environment, but we need to ensure that every measure is taken to protect young people. I have asked for the UC and CSU leadership to review the conditions on campuses throughout California to ensure that we are taking those steps, and will be working closely with them in my capacity as a UC Regent and CSU Trustee. The safety and well being of our students must be their highest priority,” stated Perez.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 24, 2010 @ 12:06 pm PST
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