Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken; Addresses Gay Teen Suicide
by owl06, Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 07:40:09 PM EST
Cross-posted from Daily Kos
Words like "metrosexual" have entered the vernacular, and 'gay' can earn big bucks at the box office, but when popular culture is juxtaposed with our actual culture, a crowbar separation remains. There are a multitude of reasons why there is a high incidence of depression and suicide among gay teens, and, in her latest "Ask Hillary" Web video, Hillary Clinton had the courage to speak up and address what remains largely unspoken.Watch it for yourself:
The transcript of the exchange is below:
Emily Hawkins, Director of Youth Outreach: Ryan says, "considering the
extraordinarily high incidence of depression and suicide among gay
teenagers, what action will you, as president, take to encourage a
more accepting and healthy educational experience for LGBT teens?"
Hillary Clinton: It's such a serious problem and I've done a lot of
work on this in New York because I'm well aware of the depression and
anxiety and frankly the high rate of suicide comparatively among gay
teens. First number one, we've got to do everything we can to send a
clear message that we value you. We value you as a person, you as a
total person. And we want you to feel accepted and respected in your
community. And you'll certainly have a president who feels that way.
There need to be more services. Sometimes it's difficult in school and
there's not a lot of understanding or sensitivity. We've got to do
more to help prepare school officials and frankly your peers in
school. Just because somebody doesn't understand doesn't mean that
they should be a bully. They need to really be taught and guided to be
more accepting and that is something that I feel very strongly about.
There's even a school in New York that I have supported that is just
for gay teens because it is very difficult in many areas for people to
find any acceptance whatsoever. We need more health services. We need
more mentoring and assistance so that you don't feel so alone.
This installment of "Ask Hillary" comes just one day after Hillary was the guest of honor at the Hiro Ballroom in Manhattan, where hundreds of GLBT supporters showed up to show their support for her; she has always shown her support for us, even during election season.
She is tackling a very serious issue. When I was younger, my behavior was not stereotypically gay: I played sports and was in a fraternity at my first college. Other friends were not so lucky and were bullied mercilessly in school, or by their own families. I was one of the fortunate ones, but it will was not easy coming out.
Offhand, I recall two friends of mine that experienced the former: One was that "gay kid" that you all know from grade school, and the other was shunned by his fundamentalist baptist family. Neither of them has committed suicide, but the impact on both of their lives was marked.
The first friend turned to drugs to escape his life in his small Pocono town. He persevered and made his way to college and graduated, but the seeds of destruction had not withered. This past year, he has battled alcoholism and depression, losing his job and subsequently his health care. He is in recovery now, but his road has not been easy.
I met my other friend at my second college in downtown Philadelphia. He was the type of guy that would do anything for you; honest, and dependable. Sadly, the abuse he suffered from his parents persisted, and his escape was the club scene. His drug of choice was crystal meth, and it nearly cost him his health and freedom as he had turned to selling it to support his habit.
There was nothing I could do but be his friend, but it was necessary to cut him out of my live until he sought help; all I could do was suggest alternatives and be there if he wanted to change.
Both had either considered or attempted suicide at some point during their lives.
A recent survey that I filled out to assist a friend doing graduate research on LGBT topics included several questions about self-harming behavior such as suicide. It was not my experience, but I have seen the impact of bullying manifest itself first hand, even years after the fact.
I am glad that Hillary is willing to discuss this topic in depth when other may perceive "gay" topics as a liability in the run up to a Presidential election.