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MCC Moderator Calls for Action to End Bullying and Harassment of Gay Teens

Office of the Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
For Immediate Release: 01 October 2010

Not One More Child
Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches
Calls for Action to End Bullying and Harassment of Gay Teens

Billy Lucas — Seth Walsh — Asher Brown — Tyler Clementi — those are the names of four young teenage boys who took their own lives during the month of September.

Billy Lucas from Indiana was 15 years old when he hung himself from a barn rafter on his grandmother’s farm in Greensburg on September 9th.

Seth Walsh was 13 when he was removed from life support ten days after he’d hung himself from a tree in a yard in California. The date was Sunday, September 19th.

Asher Brown, from Texas, was also 13 years old when he used his stepfather’s gun to shoot himself to death on September 23rd.

One day earlier, 18-year-old college freshman, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge spanning the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey.

Each boy had been targeted by classmates and peers based on appearance and perceptions of their sexual orientations. In Billy’s, Seth’s and Asher’s cases, the bullying and harassment, the verbal abuse and physical assault had gone on for months, sometimes years, without any meaningful intervention on the part of the schools they attended. In Tyler’s case, just days after his college roommate secretly videotaped a private romantic encounter with another man, posting the tape live on the Internet; the young and gifted musician killed himself.

All those boys and young men were bright and talented human beings who should have had everything to live for; who should have been able to dream about growing up, falling in love and living openly as healthy, self-affirming adults with the life-partners of their choices. Instead, all they could apparently imagine was another day of torment and bullying which they could no longer tolerate.

My heart goes out to their families, friends and loved ones. As a person of faith, I find my comfort in knowing that they now live in a realm of peace with a God of total acceptance, whose love for them is unconditional. I find my comfort in trusting that we will all one day be reunited.

Spiritual comfort, however, is not enough, because it will not save our children. In fact, people of purported religious conviction are many, many times the motivation behind the daily taunts that claimed 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover in April of 2009, and Justin Aaberg of Anoka High School in Minnesota on July 9th of this year.

Currently, an Assistant Attorney General in the state of Michigan is claiming that his religious conviction and the Constitution of the United States are sufficient grounds to justify his 6-month internet bullying campaign against a student body president on the campus of the University of Michigan because that young man is gay.

We all know the statistics: 9 out of 10 LGBT youth report being verbally harassed at school; 44 % say they have been physically harassed; 22% report having been assaulted; and 60% say is is useless to report abuse, because no one every does anything to help or protect them.

It is that last statistic that every person of conscience and good will can and must do something about!

Today, I am calling on Leaders of Faith across religious and denominational differences to do something to protect our LGBT kids.

Too many preachers and believers are either inciting or justifying cruelty and it needs to stop now!

The deaths of Carl Joseph and Justin, Billy, Seth, Asher and Tyler were absolutely preventable.

Go to your local schoolhouse. Volunteer to talk about diversity and ending bullying and harassment. There is no religion on the face of the earth that justifies harming children.

Teach a Sunday School class on the love of God for all the people of God. Offer an adult education series on what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality. If you don’t know, contact your local MCC and we will help you find a wealth of resources {www.mccchurches.org}.

Talk to your own children and grandchildren, your nephews and nieces, your godchildren. Tell them that hating anyone is wrong and that the Golden Rule is in every case the best policy to live by.

Forty-two states already have laws designed to legally prevent bullying. Clearly those laws did not save any of the children lost this year alone. — We need policies that address hate crimes and harassment, yes, and we also need straight and LGBT people alike standing up against cruelty and speaking out for common human decency and kindness so that NOT ONE MORE CHILD is lost.

On Monday, October 11th, millions of Americans will celebrate “National Coming Out Day.” This year, whether straight or gay, transgender or bisexual, join me in coming out for an end to violence and standing up for the safety and protection of all our children.

signed//
+Nancy

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches

This statement prepared in conjunction with The Moderator’s Global Justice Team,
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

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