Viral Photo Highlights Need for Action In Support Of LGBT Youth

“I'm homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.”

Sadly, this quote didn’t come from a gay person several decades ago, during a time before most people realized that they had gay people they knew and loved in their lives.  It isn’t even from several years ago. The quote is from a young boy, captured in a haunting photograph from Humans of New York with a look of pained anguish on his face, as if he is holding back a well of tears.

In the days since the image was first posted, it has received more than 620,000 “Likes” on Facebook and has been shared nearly 60,000 times. Responses, overwhelmingly positive, have poured in from individuals from across the world, including Ellen DeGeneres and Hillary Clinton. 

This week, the U.S. Senate will be presented with a rare opportunity to act to ensure that LGBT students across the country are able to obtain a quality public education that is free of discrimination. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) will be offering the Student Non-Discrimination Act, or SNDA, as an amendment on the Senate floor.  The need for these protections could not be clearer.

At the end of the day, the goal is to create a safe and supportive learning environment for all students, not lawsuits. 

As moving as the response to this photo has been, the fears voiced by this boy are reflective of a tragic reality impacting far too many LGBT young people in schools across the country. Discrimination, harassment, and even physical violence continue to play far too large a role in the lives of LGBT students. A nationwide 2013 survey of nearly 8,000 students found that more than 30 percent of LGBT students reported missing at least one entire school day in the past month because they felt unsafe.

Too often, it is the schools themselves that are the problem. The ACLU and the ACLU of Virginia have filed a lawsuit, on behalf of a transgender student, against the Gloucester County School Board for adopting a discriminatory bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers. The policy effectively expels trans students from communal restrooms and requires them to use “alternative private” restroom facilities.

SNDA, which is modeled closely on Title IX, would provide critical, explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT students in federal law. When schools discriminate against LGBT students — such as denying trans students access to restrooms that reflect who they are or barring students from bringing a same-sex date to a school dance — or allow instances of serious harassment to go unaddressed, SNDA provides important legal remedies, including a private right of action, to hold schools accountable. 

Schools found to be in violation of the law would also risk losing their federal funding.  A half century of civil rights laws have demonstrated that these kinds of enforcement tools are most effective in preventing discrimination from occurring in the first place as well as getting schools to appropriately respond when students are being discriminated against or harassed. At the end of the day, the goal is to create a safe and supportive learning environment for all students, not lawsuits (important and necessary as they sometimes are).

While we continue to celebrate a landmark Supreme Court victory for the freedom to marry, we cannot lose sight of all the important work that remains. It is mindboggling to think that there is still no federal law that explicitly protects LGBT students in our nation’s public schools. By supporting SNDA, senators would make clear that LGBT students should be able to look forward to futures full of promise, not live in fear over whether they will be accepted and loved for who they are. 

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Brian Sheehan

These protections for LGBT children are long overdue. Additionally, federal protections need to be put into place to ensure that our gay and lesbian citizens are not discriminated against in the workplace based on who they choose to love.

Anonymous

I agree and many of the youth need protection from their own patents and Churches.

Anonymous

Well, For starters. When Civil Rights started the African Americans were angry because of the rights they were withheld from, and denied. What you are asking for is to create laws to force assimilation into society. You have the right to vote, the right of free speech, and the right of free press. There is no video showing mutilation quite like the Civil Rights movement. When you can find one constitutional right that LGBT don't have that anyone else does have in the U.S., then I will respect your position.

Anonymous

lgbt people can get fired for being lgbt

Anonymous

They are not safe, hundreds of LBGT youth get thrown out of homes by parents who think like yourself.

Anonymous

I don’t know why people defend a useless dangerous conduct such as homosexual/lesbian conduct & I don’t know the apologism for transexuality which is surgically mutilating people with dangerous hormones to make them fake opposite sex members & they should make that illegal.

Main ideas of science and math are always the same (such as freezing temperature is 32 Degrees Fahrenheit & lower, 2+2=4) and with main ideas of science, unless new information is found which changes prior conclusion (such as in 1950s when they found a whale is a mammal not a fish as scientists first thought), the main ideas of science stay the same. I do not believe mainstream science/psychology in the 1960s to early 70s discovered anything new to change long held conclusions on homosexuality when they removed homosexuality from DSM in 1973. They have as said since 1973 become ideological on gay/lesbian topic. I don’t deny possibility homosexuality could be genetic or inborn for some but that is unproven. Even if it’s true that homosexuality is inborn for some people, homosexual/lesbian conduct would still be bad for health.

Homofobia is telling truths, theories and speculations which offend homosexual groups. While they have not conclusively proven homosexuality/lesbianism is inborn genes, homosexual groups often use this theory as definite by saying how they are born this way-which possibly can be the case for some but more studies are needed. But when facts are raised about the link between childhood sex abuse and a kid doing homosexual and lesbian activities in adutlhood, homosexual groups often get offended, condemn it as homofobia.

With homosexuality being found among animals, cannibalism, stealing, etc. are also found among them, so it’s a bad idea to say that because animals do something people do. It’s best for gays/lesbians to be celibate until cure is found for this. No gays, don’t choose orientation, but they choose their sexual behavior.

Any facts which show homosexuality/lesbianism to be bad and put negative views on this is condemned. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health as smoking is and needs to be marginalized like smoking is. People who engage in homosexual/lesbian conduct have more medical problems caused by homosexual/lesbian conduct. I believe the negative views of homosexual/lesbian conduct is the right view because there is something wrong with homosexual/lesbian conduct and they must make it a crime to do sex changes. I know my view offends homosexuals, but most smokers do not get offended by negative views of tobacco use. So homosexuals/lesbians have to hear others give negative views of their sex lives, because there is something wrong with this just as there’s something wrong with smoking.

Yes, it’s a proven fact that childhood sex abuse is a major cause of homosexual/lesbian conduct in adulthood. Anybody who denies the link is dishonest, delusional or both. Never have I heard straights blame childhood sex abuse for reasons a man has sex with a woman and fathers children with her. Yet sometimes have heard gays and lesbians say childhood sex abuse is reason they do same sex behaviors.Any conduct can be learned and this includes sexual conduct. There are homosexuals and lesbians who say that childhood sex abuse (especially those who are victims of a gay priest) are reasons why they think they do same sex behaviors in adulthood. Had they not been repeatedly molested, would they have turned out straight instead of gay or lesbian? It doesn’t take an expert to know that sex abuse in youth can mess up the mind and cause people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t. Of course, not all who are sexually abused in youth become gay in adulthood-but the risk is higher.

A kid can become a mugger by living in high crime neighborhood, seeing muggings in childhood and learning this conduct. Yes, there are muggers who were not raised in high crime neighborhoods but still became muggers, but that does not rule out other causes. Many emphysema victims did not smoke and were not exposed to 2nd hand smoke and got emphysema due to bad genes but it would be dishonest to deny truth that if a person smokes, he or she is more likely to get emphysema. Since homosexuals and lesbians (transexuals) often suffered childhood sex abuse, it’s no surprise that homosexuals and lesbians think childhood sexual abuse is OK when it’s homosexual activities.

Anonymous

Being gay is unhealthy? Any sexual conduct can be unhealthy--if you don't use a condom (more so for STD's than pregnancy.) It seems that you are masking your prejudices about same sex relationships in a Health Issue. "Being gay is unhealthy." I obviously disagree with you. Childhood sex abuse can cause a person to become gay later in life, but that does not always happen--many of the abused are straight as adults. Should gays be marginalized? No. They are human beings and have the same rights under the law as you do. Including people in the community actually makes the community safer and included people take better care of themselves, see themselves as worthy of a quality life, get higher educations, and become compassionate citizens. And why should a gay person abstain from sexual activity if you don't have to? That's not really fair--it's like saying that a gay person will only be tolerated if he/she is celibate. That is a denial of basic rights, and if someone told you that you must remain celibate, you would be very angry, for good reason! Not understanding a particular orientation, not wanting to understand the orientation if different from yours--is your business. Denying citizen's rights is NOT your business. Your entire answer sounded as though gay people are second-class citizens and that you and those who are like you are the first class citizens. Sorry--not good enough. Study the issues. Ask questions. Live and let live.

Anonymous

You are the reason we need to protect our LBGT youth. We protect them from people with your mentality.

Anonymous. Who ...

I disagree with your claims. I appreciate your many attempt's to pick causative factors to explain "Homosexuality" to yourself. I can confirm that some children who have been perpetrated do act out sexually in a myriad of behaviors. But there are many ways one could become LB or G, one way maybe connected to your childhood abuse theory about childhood sexual abuse being relevant and the families value system about the childhood sexual abuse meaningful. However I still like the confirmation of evidence based and empirically researched facts informing Science that most of us are born with a predominant sexual orientation: ie: Gay, lesbian or bisexual. Thanks

Anonymous lesbian

I am offended by your insults to the lbgt community, I do know other people who share similar ideologies to yourself, which of course dies not justify verbal abuse and slander.
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