PHOTO: M.V. Jantzen
Youth march at a rally to end the ban on gays in the military. October is LGBT History month, a time to celebrate gay rights and the accomplishments of the LGBT community.
PHOTO: M.V. Jantzen

By JYOTHI NATARAJAN

October is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) History Month, when people around the country celebrate the history of the gay rights movement and achievements of famous LGBT Americans. The week of October 18 is Ally Week, a time to honor supporters of gay rights who fight against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

A 2009 survey of middle and high school students by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) showed that 9 out of 10 LGBT students had been harassed in school during the previous year. In September and October 2010, at least 13 gay, lesbian and transgender teenagers killed themselves, in many cases after being bullied in their schools or colleges. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youths are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than other kids, according to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey. One teenager who responded to a survey led by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said, “my suicide attempt had a lot to do with the fact that I felt hopeless and alone in regards to my gender identity.”

News of the recent suicides was on the front pages of many newspapers. Rea Carey, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian task Force said “these shocking and disheartening numbers speak to the urgency of ending bullying in our nation’s schools and ending discrimination in our nation’s workplaces.” When asked by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! what schools can do to help, journalist Richard Kim said we need both education that “teaches children that gay and lesbian and transgender people exist” and “anti-bullying laws, which require teachers to report incidents of bullying, to have trainings about that.”

SEE ALSO:

Famous LGBT People

Judge Orders End to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

What is LGBT? (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)
Lesbian: a woman who is romantically attracted to other women
Gay: a man who is romantically attracted to other men
Bisexual: a man or a woman who is romantically attracted to both men and women
Transgender: a person who is born a girl, but who identifies more as a boy, or a person who is born a boy, but who identifies more as a girl