Culture

Making it better: The bullying of gay and lesbian teens must stop, lawmakers say

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Speaking out: Dina Titus and David Parks have called for more action against bullying.
Photo: April Corbin

Anti-bullying laws are on Nevada’s books. That’s a problem, says State Senator David Parks to a few hundred people gathered outside The Arts Factory on a progressively chilly Monday night. The laws—AB 459, requiring schools to develop programs on harassment, and SB 153, regarding cyberbullying—are only in the books, not in classrooms and on playgrounds.

“We need to do more,” the state’s first and only openly gay senator told the Bully-Free Zone Rally, formed after organizers of Stonewall Democrats were moved by a string of highly publicized teen suicides across the country, most believed to be related to the victim’s sexual orientation—including the case of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off George Washington Bridge after his roommate streamed a live feed of Clementi and another man having a sexual encounter.

Joining Parks, Senator Dina Titus spoke of co-sponsoring the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would require schools to have anti-bullying provisions, and amending discrimination laws to include wording on sexual orientation. All this to try and stop a tragedy like Clementi’s from happening locally. LGBTQ youth are nine times as likely to kill themselves, several activists repeated.

But perhaps more than laws, these teens need love—and hope.

A QVegas community outreach director has started a You Are Loved campaign to collect locals’ stories. Las Vegas Pride is coordinating with the national It Gets Better campaign, which seeks to remind queer youth that high school hell is temporary. Other national campaigns with a local presence include GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) and the Trevor Project, which focuses on LGBT suicide prevention.

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