Thursday, October 07, 2010

Expert: Rash of Suicides Reflects Pervasive Negative Attitudes Toward Non-Heterosexuals

My one time hometown paper, the Syracuse Post Standard has an article that quotes statements by a Syracuse University expert, Elizabeth Payne (pictured at right) - and by expert, I mean a REAL expert as opposed to the charlatans of the Christian Right like Linda Harvey and Matt Barber- who lays the responsibility for gay teen suicides directly at the feet of the negative attitudes and bigotry towards gays kept alive by guess who, the Christian Right. While Payne says bullying of all kinds needs to end, she goes to the heart of the matter which is the societal bigotry that fuels homophobia and anti-gay bullying. The very bigotry that is the stock in trade of every "family values" and professional Christian organization on the right. These groups must be defeated and their talking heads turned into the well deserved pariahs that they are. Here are some highlights:
A recent rash of suicides among gay teens nationwide is a symptom that negative attitudes about non-heterosexuals are still pervasive in families, schools and other segments of society, according to an LGBTQ youth expert.
“A lot of people assume because ‘Will& Grace’ was a popular TV show, homophobia is a thing of the past,” said Elizabethe Payne, referring to the sitcom that featured gay characters. “That ain’t true.”
LGBTQ youths have been committing and attempting suicide at higher rates than their heterosexual peers for a long time, Payne said.
Putting a stop to bullying is an important, but small part of the solution, according to Payne. She said society needs to rethink the way it views sexual orientation. Parents and educators need to be made aware of their actions that marginalize LGBTQ youths, she said.

“Why is it such a bad thing for a boy to want to be a cheerleader or do ballet? Why do we pick on him for that?” Payne said. “We need to teach our children there are lots of ways to be a man and lots of ways to be a woman.”

Payne directs the Q Center at Aids Community Resources in Syracuse. The center, partially funded by the United Way, offers educational support, counseling services, social events, HIV education and testing for LGBTQ youth

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