Just Like Sticks and Stones But Words Can Harm You

Anti-gay rhetoric helps prompt LGBT teen suicides; anti-bullying effort intensifies

In early September, news reports told the tragic tale of 15-year-old Billy Lucas in Indiana, a floppy-haired boy who liked to show horses and lambs at county fairs. After daily torment and harassment from bullies who perceived he was gay, Lucas was so broken, so depressed and felt so alone that he couldn’t stand living one more day.

He hung himself from a rafter in his family’s barn, ending his life before he was old enough to get his driver’s license.

During the past two months, newspapers and the Internet have been filled with stories of similar incidents across the nation, including the suicides of 13-year-old Asher Brown, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, 13-year-old Seth Walsh, 19-year-old Raymond Chase and others. All decided to end their own lives, and all for the same reason: They were tormented, harassed and bullied to a point they could no longer stand it.

In September alone there were 11 LGBT bullying-related suicides, all of which appear to be tied to anti-gay rhetoric and hatred.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that homosexuality is considered a prime factor in bullying and that gay youth who are bullied are more likely than other children to be depressed, lonely and anxious and are more prone to think about suicide or trying to commit suicide.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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