President Obama Speaks Out on Anti-Gay Bullying

Many national media outlets have been picking up on recent efforts by the LGBT community to draw attention to the struggles of youth who are bullied and often commit suicide as a result of their sexual orientation. This week, several stories have made their way into the conversation.

President Obama released the following message yesterday, saying that the deaths have "shocked and saddened" him, and that while he doesn’t know what it’s like to be bullied for being gay, he knows what it’s like to feel alone or apart from everybody else. He urges teenagers to reach out to people they trust. "There is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. … Things will get better. And more than that, with time, you’re going to see that you’re differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you faced with compassion and wisdom."

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His inspiring words contribute to the videos created by several other high profile officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and openly gay Texas Councilman Joel Burns.

The Public Religion Research Institute just released survey results indicating that 43% of Americans believe messages from religious organizations regarding homosexuality are negative. 4 in 10 also believe that these messages contribute “a lot” to negative perceptions of gay and lesbian people, and 33% of Americans say they contribute a lot to higher rates of suicide among LGBT people. CNN quoted columnist Dan Savage about the survey, who noted that the results do correspond “with my experience and that of millions of other gay and lesbian people.”

Still, some faith leaders are taking action against these perceptions. Various Muslim, Jewish, and Christian denominations have posted petitions and statements denouncing bullying and promoting acceptance, and several leaders even celebrated Spirit Day yesterday.

All of these actions represent, thankfully, a greater focus on the immensely important issue of bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, in schools and out. GLAAD will continue to monitor progress on these and other stories, to ensure that they respect the memory all victims of anti-LGBT sentiment.