Sunday, 2 October 2011

LGBT HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATES QUEER HEROES AS HOMOPHOBIA COSTS CANADA $9 BILLION

 LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender heroes each day during the month of October

There are now so many unfortunate straight kids being killed or committing suicide because of homophobic bullying at school that I can’t help but point out the chickens have finally come home to roost

For years I’ve been screaming about gay kids being tormented by bullies at school, but it took straight kids dying – 12 students and a teacher at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999 – to finally get the attention of parents, educators and authorities. Even then, the bullying and suicides of gay kids didn't get much traction in the media until Dan Savage introduced the It Get's Better campaign in September 2010.

A couple years ago I was blabbing with internationally renowned child expert Barbara Coloroso – whose book The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander is essential reading for every parent – and she told me friends of her own children attended Columbine during the shootings.

"High school is a very sensitive time, a time when your sexuality is coming to the fore," Barbara told me. "And when you ask students the worst thing they can be called, right across the board they will say ‘queer’ or ‘faggot.’ I say to people if the majority of your children are heterosexual and they fear those words and are devastated by it, how do you think a gay child feels?"

The problem is also rife in schoolyards around the world. This trauma often continues into young adulthood. A study by the Imperial College for the British Journal of Psychiatry surveyed 1,285 LGB people and found that those who had suffered bullying at school – nearly 85 per cent of respondents had experienced violence in the previous five years, from verbal insults to property damage and personal attacks – are more at risk for suffering from mental health problems, ranging from sleep disturbance to anxiety and depression.

And Gens Hellquist, the executive director of the Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition, estimated in 2004 that the economic cost of homophobia on Canada’s universal health care system was then a whopping $8.95-billion each year.

Yes, you read right: billion.

So to help raise awareness of gay issues, Philadelphia-based Equality Forum's annual LGBT History Month celebrates a gay hero each and every day in October. 



LGBT History Month 2011 includes an internal search engine for all 186 heroes from 2006 - 2011. By clicking onIcon Search and choosing one of hundreds of categories, such as African-American, Athlete, California, HIV/AIDS, Military, Religion, Singer, Transgender, Youth, you will find links to all the heroes in that category with their resources. 

This year's LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender heroes, including author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel (Oct 3), Hollywood screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Oct 5), actor Alan Cumming (oct 10), Lady Gaga (Oct 12), Neil Patrick Harris (Oct 14), poet Langston Hughes( Oct 16), former MLB umpire Dave Kopay (oct 21), Ricky Martin (Oct 22), tennis player Amélie Mauresmo (Oct 23), U.S. "high school prom" student Constance McMillen (Oct 24), Dan Savage (Oct 26), coemdian Wanda Sykes (Oct 28) and Virginia Woolf (Oct 30).

Beginning October 1 a new LGBT hero is featured each day at Equality Forum's terrific LGBT History Month website, with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources.

Meanwhile, if you're a young gay teen being bullied and having problems at school in Montreal, call Project 10 at Batshaw Youth and Family Centres at 514-989-4585, or surf to www.p10.qc.ca.

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