Many times in my life i have struggled to promise young people that their lives will get better. All these decades later as so many still face school bullying, harassment and even violence, I know I am not the only one who feels the growing weight of obligation to make sure that the lives of young people actually do get better. Not someday, but now.
FIRST: Idaho's anti-bullying law doesn't even mention gay kids.
SECOND: Tragically Idaho has the third highest suicide rate in the nation. Nationally 1/3 of teen suicides has to do with young people's struggles coping with issues of sexual orientation or gender identity. Too many American kids do not feel safe at school, welcome at church or accepted in their own homes.
THIRD: Suicide is not the only tragedy to come from rejection, fear and a lack of legal protection. Too many young people find themselves more vulnerable to drug addiction and depression as they face these issues alone in rural communities or in silence in our cities.
FORTH: Anti-gay bullying is one of the most common forms of bullying in schools. Here still some teachers fear addressing anti-gay harassment in classrooms because at times teachers have faced disciplinary measures simply for mentioning the word gay. And because Idaho's anti-bullying law doesn't mention any specific kinds of bullying, it leaves open for some students, teachers and parents to believe that gay kids might be an exception to the anti-bullying rule.
If we are going to plead with Idaho's young people not to despair or ever consider self destructive acts like suicide, then we have an obligation; That obligation is to be sure that we change Idaho law so that gay kids are clearly safe and protected.
We must do all we can to make sure it gets better now-- not years from now, but now.
Saturday, January 29th will be a statewide day of vigils, rallies and events to support safe schools and fair employment legislation to protect gay Idahoans from job discrimination and Idaho kids from anti-gay bullying. If you are a business person, straight ally, young person or anyone who wants to help organize an event, large or small in your community, let us know. I will pass your information to Lindsey Matson who will work to connect you with other people in your community or area who also want to help.
See photos and more from events in 11 towns across Idaho on Jan 29 and get involved in passing legislation this year. http://4idaho.org/humanrights