October 11: National Coming Out Day

by Kelly MacNeil on October 11, 2010

Over the past few weeks at least four gay teenage boys have committed suicide after they were the victims of bullying and harassment at their high schools, according to The Sacramento Bee. In light of these incidents, this year’s National Coming Out Day may be more significant than usual.

Tyler Clementi was a Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his roommate broadcast a video he recorded of Tyler and another male engaging in sexual acts.

Seth Walsh and Billy Lucas, teenagers in Indiana and California respectively, hanged themselves after a barrage of bullying and taunting at their schools.

These incidents, among others, have highlighted the need for support organizations for teens to turn to when local communities and schools fail them.

Dan Savage, editor of The Stranger weekly, initiated one such effort titled It Gets Better Project. The project allows GLBT individuals to post videos in which they reassure young students life gets better once they leave high school.

The National Gay-Straight Alliance Network has also launched their Make It Better video project in which people upload videos that showcase their efforts to help others. Make it Better also aims to press legislators to pass Federal laws to make schools safer for LGBT individuals.

Rallies and workshops are scheduled around the nation’s schools in order to promote discussion and awareness of the issues GLBT individuals face.

“I heard something on the news about how young people are killing themselves because they were different, they were gay, we need this more around the world so people can come to us so they have somewhere to go for comfort and support so we can be there for them,” said Scooter Silva who was present at a GLBT rally in North Carolina, told WWAYTv3.com.

Currently only six states allow same-sex marriage and 33 states have anti-discrimination laws. However, the number of gay students harassed at school has not changed in over a decade, according to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

October 11 is an international civil awareness day for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people to highlight the challenges they face due to their sexual preference. Often, many choose this day to come out to their friends, family or co-workers.

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