Upcoming OJJDP Webinar Examines the Role of Families for LGBT Youth

On July 19, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) will present a webinar titled “The Critical Role of Families in Reducing Risk and Promoting Well-Being for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Intersex (LGBTQI) Youth.”
The webinar is the second in the organization’s “Understanding and Overcoming the Challenges Faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Youth” series, and will focus on resources, strategies and tools used for family education and intervention. During the webinar, research findings and program approaches from several organizations will be discussed, including techniques and data presented by The Family Acceptance Project, Greater Boston Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the Green Chimneys Program of New York City and San Francisco State University. The event will examine how family acceptance promotes the mental health and well being of LGBTQI youth, as well as techniques for reducing risks of depression, suicide, substance abuse, homelessness and potential sexual health hazards. The webinar is sponsored by the National Training & Technical Assistance Center, a program operated by the OJJDP. The online presentation is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EDT, and will run approximately one and a half hours.

Rutgers Webcam Spying Case a Hate Crime, Jurors Conclude

A former Rutgers University student was found guilty Friday on all 15 charges he faced for using a webcam to spy on his college roommate having sex with another man. Charges included invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. Dharun Ravi, now 20, invited friends through text messages and Twitter encouraging them to view the webcam. Three days after the incident, his roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Ravi’s attorneys did not dispute the facts of the case, according to The New York Times, agreeing that he had indeed set up a webcam on his computer and went to a friend’s room where he saw Clementi kissing a man he had met on the Internet.

A Minnesota School District’s Struggle over Bullying and Gay Rights

In a front page story, the New York Times explores the problem of bullying and a controversial school policy concerning sexual orientation in a school district in suburban Minneapolis. The piece details a long struggle between advocates for homosexual students and Christian conservatives over how sexual orientation should be taught in schools. It also reports on a lawsuit filed against the Anoka-Hennepin School District claiming, in part, that district policy requiring teachers to be “neutral” on the question of sexual orientation has helped to bring about a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students and therefore increasing the number of incidents of bullying. The suit was brought on behalf of the students by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. News of the suit comes after reports that the Department of Justice is in the midst of a civil rights investigation of on-going harassment of gay and lesbian students in the the district of some 38,000.

A Transgender Man of Color Shares his Story

James Newton, 29, of Norcross, Ga., a suburban community near Atlanta, got a rude awakening into what it sometimes means to be a black man in America. Moments after officially getting his name changed from his female birth name at the county courthouse, he noticed a woman looking back at him in the parking lot. With every step he took toward his car, recalls Newton, the woman sped up, all the while frantically twisting her head in his direction. It took a moment for it to register, but he soon realized that she had incorrectly assumed that he was following her to her car. The incident, he says, in many ways marred an important milestone in his transgender transition into life as a male.

Tom Jacobs On Foster Care and LGBT Youth

It’s a good time to reflect on some troubling statistics concerning LGBTQ foster children and do something to make a difference. It is estimated that approximately 260,000 youth are in the foster care system in the United States at any given time, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Additionally, it is estimated that up to 18 percent of children in foster care are LGBTQ youth. These youth are falling through the cracks and are more at risk of becoming runaways, homeless, suicidal and harassed by peers. According to the research conducted for the American Bar Association’s Opening Doors Project, judges and lawyers who work with youth in foster care acknowledge they don’t have the knowledge or resources to help LGBT foster kids.

LGBT stock photo - Clay Duda, JJIE.org

Double Jeopardy: Lesbian Activist Says Fear of Parents’ Homophobia Inspires Secret Life

[“Double Jeopardy: Lesbian Activist Says Fear of Parents’ Homophobia Inspires Secret Life” is part 2 of a 3 part series on LGBT issues. Bookmark this page for updates.]

Second Life is a virtual reality game wherein members create a customized “avatar” that serves as a digital representation of themselves. In this three-dimensional virtual community, the avatar assumes an identity, takes up residence and moves about in a world completely created by them, for them. Second Lifers buy property, start businesses, make friends, join clubs, attend classes or sometimes just hang out. Amber Holt* has never played this game, but in many respects, she feels like she lives it every day.

Ty Cobb On Safe Schools for LGBT Youth

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth across America are facing a crisis in the juvenile justice system as a result of harmful discrimination in their homes, schools and communities. Recent studies demonstrate that continued harassment of LGBT youth in their schools place them at a higher risk for involvement with the system. LGBT youth are more likely to skip school to avoid victimization and in the process face truancy charges. Additionally, other LGBT students end up in the system on assault or disorderly conduct charges after they try to defend themselves against bullying by their classmates. In other instances, LGBT youth are disproportionately targeted by school officials for punishment, often referring them to juvenile court for conduct that is more appropriately handled in school.

The ABCs of LGBT

When my editor, John Fleming, informed me that I would be writing a series about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) young people in metro Atlanta and the issues they often face, honestly I did not know what to expect. At the least, I knew it would be interesting. Ultimately the very personal accounts shared by Brian, Amber and Connor were far more than that. I found their accounts to be engaging, enlightening and, quite frankly, educational. Interviewing these dynamic individuals really offered me some insight into the real challenges many people face just trying to express who they feel they are deep inside.

Brian Dixon

The Other Side of the Rainbow: Young, Gay and Homeless in Metro Atlanta

[“The Other Side of the Rainbow: Young, Gay and Homeless in Metro Atlanta” is part 1 of a 3 part series on LGBT issues. Bookmark this page for updates.]

In April 2008, Brian Dixon was 18-years-old and homeless. Being gay, he says, only exacerbated his predicament. After allegedly enduring years of mental and physical abuse, at age 14 Dixon left home to live with his grandparents. Within a year, they placed him in Georgia’s foster care system.

LGBT Youth More Likely to Experience Abuse and Bullying, Says New Study

Young people who self-identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely to experience bullying, sexual abuse and parental physical abuse, according to a new study by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.  As a result, LGBT youth are also more likely to miss school. Study co-author Mark S. Friedman, Ph.D., told ScienceDaily that this abuse is one of the underlying reasons for higher rates of mental illness among LGBT youth. “However,” Friedman said, “I cannot stress enough that these youth experience sexual and physical abuse and bullying because they identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual or experience same-sex attraction; abuse does not ’cause’ sexual orientation or identification.” A number of studies had previously been conducted on this topic but were limited in size.  Friedman and co-authors conducted a meta-analysis of the previous data that provided more accurate results.