Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi’s fatal jump from the George Washington Bridge two weeks ago brought an end to an already tragic month for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community which saw a number of teens commit suicide in part because of anti-gay bullying and harassment.
And these deaths have not gone unnoticed by officials at IU.
GLBT Student Support Services coordinator Doug Bauder said the deaths are not indications of a disturbing new trend in bullying, but a problem many gay teens have faced for years.
“A year ago, someone kept urinating on a student’s door,” Bauder said. “Someone would write ‘faggot’ on the door and then piss on it. Other students that year were repeatedly harassed by phone. The point being, that nasty cases of harassment have happened and continue to happen on this campus.”
Bauder said as far as he knows, there has not been an IU student who has committed suicide because of anti-gay bullying in recent years, but incidents such as these have led to IU students transferring to other schools.
Statistics compiled by IU Incidents Teams, which work with students and faculty to resolve bias-motivated harassment, indicate that the number of sexual orientation and gender identity related cases have steadily declined over the past five years.
Forty-seven cases were reported to the GLBT Anti-Harrassment Incident Team last school year, down from the 90 cases reported five years ago.
But the number is still too high, said Nancy Stockton, director of Counseling and Psychological Services.
“By and large young people are less homophobic than their parents,” Stockton said. “They tend to be more welcoming. There’s a shift in the attitude. But what the University should do, and is doing, is looking at not only individual civility, but also creating a more civil atmosphere.”
Read the rest of this story at the Indiana Daily Student.