Community forum focuses on gay youth suicides

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - "Chad" has yet to come out to his parents, but he was among those raising their hands during a meeting Tuesday night to signify a personal connection to being bullied.

"Being too fat, too small, too smart, or something like that - anything," he said.

Chad and his friends were targeted for being gay.  He said some of them even contemplated suicide.

"Other gay kids I know that have done that," Chad said.

The community forum held Wednesday was organized by the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center.  It included, among other things, information on school policies.

"What are the next steps for them?" asked MGLCC Director Will Batts.  "Where do they go for help?"

There is a renewed sense of urgency regarding gay youth.  They are up to eight times more likely to attempt suicide according to some studies.

"It's been happening for a long time, but I think the recent number of suicides has made people realize that it's a bigger issue than just kids being kids," said Batts.

The recent stories prompted a Texas politician to share his personal struggle and a host of celebrities to promise "it gets better" via a YouTube campaign.

"We do anticipate keeping this going," said Batts.  "And not just a one-time thing," he added.

Chad believes continued national and local attention will only help those bullied to the brink of despair.

"There are people you can go to for help if you feel that way," he said.

People across the nation planned on wearing purple ribbons Wednesday in order to draw attention to the issue of teen suicide.

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