Mourning Son’s Death, Mother Speaks Out Against Culture of Bullying

Iowa on Chalkboard

A grieving mother in Iowa whose gay son recently died by suicide spoke at length with the Des Moines Register, saying that a culture of bullying at her son’s school likely contributed to the desperation of several teens there who took their own lives. Her son AJ’s suicide is the fifth in five years among students at Southeast Polk High School.

According to the Des Moines Register, AJ’s “mother said she believes bullying and frequent insults, combined with a mental illness, contributed to [AJ’s] decision to kill himself.”

Openly Gay Mountaineer Heading Up Mount Everest

Mount EverestTwenty-year-old Cason Crane is about to climb Mount Everest.

The inspiring young mountaineer founded the Rainbow Summits Project to combine his passion for climbing with an important cause: He aims to “raise funds and awareness for The Trevor Project, the leading GLBTQ suicide and crisis prevention service, by climbing the highest peak on each continent—the ‘Seven Summits.’

Cason has already reached five of the peaks. After he climbs Mount Everest, he heads to Alaska to climb the seventh and final peak on his list, Denali (also known as Mount McKinley).

Cason will be the first openly gay person to reach all seven summits, and the fifth youngest person ever to do so.

You can follow his progress on Twitter. (According to one recent tweet, he had “landed safely in Lukla” and was “eating breakfast before heading down the trail towards #Everest!”) You can also support his efforts by donating to his initiative here. All donations go directly to the Trevor Project. (None go to climbing expenses).

Good luck on Everest, Cason!


LGBT Youth News Roundup: March 1, 2013

Recent LGBT-youth-related stories from around the country and world:

• The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund has filed a groundbreaking lawsuit on behalf of a young transgender girl in Colorado. CNN reports on the story here and in the video below, and the TLDEF’s press release is here. The school will not let the young girl use the girls’ restroom.

• A Pennsylvania school board has voted 5-4 to reject a proposed gay-straight alliance. The board could now face costly legal action; if it does, it will likely lose. For a recent LGBT Youth Allies post on gay-straight alliances, click here.

LGBT youth and their allies are fighting censorship in Pennsylvania, Florida and elsewhere. In contrast, a Connecticut student has won the right to wear an anti-gay T-shirt with help from the ACLU.

• Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union is demanding that a school remove Internet filters that have blocked access to LGBT-supportive websites. The filters have also blocked the sites of some anti-gay groups.

• A transgender high school student in Mississippi has gotten her high school to change its discriminatory dress code. She will finish the school year wearing feminine clothes.

• A Connecticut school, facing pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, has reversed course and will allow a student to wear an anti-gay t-shirt. The shirt pictures a rainbow in a circle with a line through it. The legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut told reporters that while “[t]he ACLU has fought hard for same-sex marriage” and “couldn’t agree with [the student] less on that issue,” the student “is absolutely correct about his right to express his opinion.” The news apparently didn’t sit well with area man Derrel Rice, 68, who was arrested after he went to two school properties to protest the school’s decision.

• Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit against a Florida school on behalf of Amber Hatcher, a lesbian student who was punished for supporting the National Day of Silence. The event raises awareness about anti-LGBT bullying and discrimination. Read the full post, with stories from around the country and world