An age 13+, well-moderated, bully, troll, pervert & stalker-free forum for LGBTQ teens and their allies which offers volunteer social workers and anonymous medical advice on occasion. The posting is literate and the learning opportunities are rich.
I referred a 14-year-old member of a non-LGBT forum I’m a member of to E.C. a while back and he has since reported that the members and vibe at Empty Closets has helped him so much that he spread the word to three of his friends who are also struggling to better understand their recent sexuality. Check out E.C. and see for yourselves:
Another similar forum is TrevorSpace:
I’ve no feedback on it but it is part of the Trevor Project:
My personal belief is that a large number of young male suicides are by youths who either are or suspect they may be gay. They have in addition been brought up in an environment where they have witnessed or experienced nothing but negativity about being gay and therefore see no future for themselves.
The parents always deny their son was gay, how do they know? I know from personal experience that the one thing I would not have put on the suicide note was” by the way I am gay”. The whole point of suicide would have been to cover up that fact or escape it. I know what this young man went through to do what he did and it really saddens me. It also saddens me that the parents feel the need to say he was not gay. First of all they don’t know, second, it shouldn’t need to be stated. The very fact his possible gayness was an issue killed him. What has this school done since his death to address the gay issue specifically.
They seem to have said everything except that homophobia and homophobic bullying are wrong in themselves. The implication, intended or not, is that homophobic bullying is bad if the victim is actually straight and no big deal otherwise. Depressingly familiar.
I’m not sure that’s entirely fair.
On the other thread his parents seem to be quite LGBT friendly.
Granted LGBT suicide may not have been something they gave much thought up until the tragedy but there’s not much to suggest they would have been anything but supportive whether Dom was gay or straight, had they known what was going on.
The very fact that they’re talking openly to us on a gay forum and supporting our cause shows some degree of goodwill, and it seems only good form that we return the courtesy.
It doesn’t really matter if he was gay or straight, the issue is with the bullies, not Dom’s parents. All else is speculation and will probably never be answered.
I have never seen evidence of more supportive people (publically) in such tragic circumstances on any LGBT website or publication.
Dom’s parents dignity, willingness to support gay rights entirely and passion to see a positive influence from this tragedy can be a strong and positive lesson to everyone
Riondo. A very good point…
I think their reaction illustrates the unspoken assumption that if one is straight, being called gay is a dreadful slur. In a truly equal and fair-minded society, that would not be the case.
Having read the dignified comments of the parents of Dom on another thread on here, I suspect they and his Dom’s sister are convinced he was not gay. In part though, the issue isn’t whether he was gay nor not. The bullying had some connection to a perception of his sexuality (whether or not that was accurate). It is the bullying that should be tackled and ensuring that schools are a safe place for children.
“In part though, the issue isn’t whether he was gay nor not.”
But my point is that does matter. I can’t speak for these particular parents and mine was a general point in this sort of case. If the suicide is gay and his parents don”t have a clue he may feel he has no refuge. I think the majority of parents of gay kids don’t have a clue.
As a gay teenager you have no way of knowing how your parents will react so you assume the worst. You don’t want to bring shame on your parents so you internalise it and kill yourself because you have nowhere to go.
If your parents have sent you to a religious school what does that tell you?
If you are straight you would react totally differently.
Just my experience and opinion.
What does it tell you that he went to a Catholic school twitless? Does it tell you that he had a specific learning difficulty which wasnt supported in the state sector and that the only way i could get the support he needed was to send him to a private junior school at age 10 and that at age 11 he wanted to go up to the senior school with his friends. Or do you assume that we are a deeply religious family cos we are not. I listed myself in the census as no religion as did my daughter.
“What has this school done since his death to address the gay issue specifically”
Nothing! Here is a past 1 year search of the schools website. They have a bullying policy, but it has not been amended since the boys death: http://tinyurl.com/3kcmnby I also entered some other key words in the search of the 83 page website and found nothing relating to Gay’s.
Disgusting that head teacher should be sacked!
Regardless of if someone if Gay or not, that doesn’t give anyone the right to abuse because of it. Let’s be honest it’s only because being Gay has used in a negative sense generally that effects how others see us or those wrongly accused.
I still feel this is directly responsible to the Catholic School in this case because as said I very much doubt the issue of homosexuality has been addressed by the school or other schools in any positive way either before or after this preventable tragedy.
No matter how many young people go through the this, it is something we will never get used ot because there could be so much in education that could almost stop this but they choose not to teach in a progress way. The damage that does cannot be defended. The should be no opt out clause. Education needs to be given to prevent this kind of negative, damaging bullying.
I’ve done some more searching and have found 1 key word in one sentence and that’s it!
“Homophobic because of, or focussing on the issue of sexuality”
I don’t think these schools have any interests in protecting the pupils.
@Jock S Trap
I wholeheartedly agree that whether someone is gay (or not) doesnt given anyone a right to bully, harass or abuse for that reason (or any other reason).
Absolutely being gay (perceived or real) is something (like other things – race, nationality, disability etc) that is used negatively to bully, abuse, harass, mock etc. We need to do all we can as a society to eliminate all forms of bullying and abuse. I suspect we will never know accurately (partly as many victims of bullying do not come forward) but there is a perception in society that LGBT bullying etc is more prevalent now than other forms in the UK – not sure if that is accurate but it certainly feels that way to many.
It does appear that the school has not tackled things either before or after this tragic incident from the information that Cleggy mentions. That (regardless of any sense of blame the school may or may not have) would be irresponsible and wrong.
It is incumbant on all schools and those that …
… have an input into the development of children to ensure that they do all that they can to promote and ensure equality and fairness for all those young people and that they try to create a culture of acceptance.
Many schools of all backgrounds fail to engage effectively in this area – and all should be criticized and scrutinized to ensure they change and support children.
What a massive waste of a life. If only he’d spoken to someone he’d still be here. I feel hugely sorry for the parents but I agree, the focus should not be on the fact that he was “straight” (hell, weren’t we all straight at that age). It should be to ensure that being gay is not seen to be something so bad that if people accuse you of it, then you should kill yourself.
What is worrying is that the stigma of even being accused of being gay has caused a child to kill himself. We need to do more to educate our children.
One of my friends has written an LGBT resource for schools to use in Religious Education – some of which is now online at http://faithandsexuality.co.uk/
It is far more likely he was gay than not. It is hard to believe rumours would cause him to contemplate suicide if he were clearly straight. Unless he was already mentally unstable.
Why is it so shocking to suggest or accept he may have actually been gay like a lot of other young suicides.
I agree that he was most probably gay, but I was trying to highlight the stigma that even being called gay produces. The problem is even being LGBT is seen as such a negative in our society that it could drive someone to suicide. Now is probably not the right time, but it would be good to hear his parents and teachers be supportive of gay teens.
Weither he was or not, it’s hardly the issue. The behaviour of others towards it is the issue.
Its a difficult issue. I see no reason to believe it is more likely that he was gay than wasnt purely because he felt the need to commit suicide due to bullying that was homophobic – the bullies may well have perceived him wrongly. I know of other cases where everyone connected to the young person (best friend, parents, teachers, youth workers, girlfriends etc) all had no reason to believe a person was gay but they still experienced bullying that was linked to being perceived as gay. I am sure there will be young people who are bullied who deny being gay or never presented to others as being gay who are – equally some will not be.
One of the reasons its impossible to know is that no one will ever know the thought processes immediately before suicides occur. The absolute full truth is never known – it makes investigating suicide horrendously difficult.
“One of the reasons its impossible to know is that no one will ever know the thought processes immediately before suicides occur”
Except that some people who come close but don’t do it and those who survive a serious attempt do know those thought processes. Which was really my point and why I feel so strongly about it. Maybe researchers ought to investigate those survivors?
That would prove it in those unsuccessful suicides … and there will be some of the successful ones that it applies to – but not all and not necessarily this one
Theres actually quite a lot of research on suicide – Ive read a lot of it over the past year. There are some fairly reliable indicators of an inclination to suicide – none of which Dom displayed. There’s also more work being done on “impulse suicide”. Girls attempt suicide 4x more than boys but boys have a higher fatality rate as they choose more violent methods. Many young people make repeated attempts before they take their own lives. Impulse suicides tend to be fatal at first attempt. One of the reasons the suicide rate amongst young gay men is high is simply that they are male. I honestly dont know if young gays are more likely to kill themselves than other young males. Most NHS Trusts dont have very good data. It would be worth researching. If we dont know the scale its hard to have preventative strategies. I strongly believe that prevention can work to rduce the number of suicides generally and those of young men in particular.
Being called gay can be very damaging when you attracted to women. He would probably have the added preasures that these rumours would stop girls from wanting to date him etc. as maybe a misplaced fear that he would be forced into a gay lifestyle that he personally would find uncomfortable as he was straight.
Before I transitioned people thought I was a gay guy and although it didn’t drive me to suicide it was just one more thing that affected my self worth.
This is a very perceptive comment. Dom was so happy when he came back from the school trip that we wondered whether he had got a girlfriend. Less than 24 hours later he was dead. We dont think the real issue is whether Dom was straight or gay. Its that he was bullied. Im amazed that people feel they can determine the sexuality of someone theyve never met on the basis of 2 short articles and maybe one photo and I’d like Dom to be remembered as a person not as a symbol. Making assumptions and stereotyping or reading one’s own experience into his story are not really helpful. Im not a dad in denial and we are not a religious family. So please dont simplify what is a complicated story. Dom was aso dyslexic – maybe that was part of the story too.
Do I get the feeling some people want to push the gay agenda on a situation that is probably not? Someone’s sexuality is something only that person knows, and whoever they care to share that information with. Making assumptions is ignorant and out of order. Dominic has gone to his grave still the only person that really knew. Leave it at that.
Or is it more the fact: “Well if he wasn’t gay, what’s it got to do with us?”
That sort of right-on gay politics is really what his parents want to hear. (not)
Thanks Spanner, btw Im so out of touch that I assume your nom de plume means you are a mechanic in real life! (NOT)
agree but these kids NEED to know WHERE to get help – also tackling the homophobia is paramount sadly neither of these options will be addressed
I agree, there needs to be funding to help set up and support those pupils going through this bullying. It needs to be there to everyone going through this level of intimidation, ie regardless of weither the pupil or Gay or not. Homophobic bully effects everyone.
I have long campaigned for free travel for youngsters to be taken to the nearest LGBTQ youth group, but my Council has repeatedly said they don’t have the money and yet they are still paying for children to go to religious schools by bus or taxi. Here is a council thats cutting the cost: http://www.secularism.org.uk/128160.html
Councils will waste money but resent you for pointing the obvious out to them.
This all boils down to the not understanding what the result of homophobic bullying are and their consequences.
Its not just young teenagers taking their lives, but also adults who get sucked in by the ex-gay ministries. This boy is the type that they prey on to pray away the gay and many of them end up psychologically damaged or commit suicide.
In society’s eyes, gay = negative. I agree with you Twitless…how do the parents know unless its obvious or he or she has told them?
As a former participant in various ex-gay ministries I’m not so sure that its that clear cut. My involvement in them helped me come-out and accept myself. What is the main problem is the attitude and practice of evangelical churches. That is where the change needs to take place. One of the ex-gay groups I was involved in has even changed its mind too (courage.org.uk)
That certainly is one of the issues.
There are many other influences on young people who may or may not be gay or certain of their orientation that cause them to be pressurized, condemned or bullied. All of them need dealing with.
Thanks for sharing this information about the group “Courage”, aimed at providing support to surviors of ex-gay abuse.
This is very encouraging news, and I am glad to hear that there is a conter-movement aimed at challenging these insidous organisations; inspired largely I might add by NARTH in the USA and truefreeedom trust in the UK.
To be fair, it was Courage which was involved in the abuse for the first ten years of its existence. Thankfully they saw the light and the last ten years have been undoing the damage. However as I said earlier its not all that clear cut. Often the ex-gay groups are the only place where one can meet other gays and start to accept yourself. Its the churches that need challenging, not the ex-gay groups.
I agree it is good news that they had the “courage” to change, so to speak.
I agree, it is ironic that Ex-Gay groups have often been the only place in which Evangelical Gay Christians have managed to meet other Gay Christians.
My big concern at the moment is over Ann Atkins (Catholic – Media Personality Journalist etc) support of the group “True Freedom Trust”
Come and join us on “My” pink news, and join the group Media Watch – we are currently thinking about how to raise awareness of Ann Atkins involvment in True freedom trust
She has been a well known bigot for many years although she seems to have been rather quiet of late. I used to belong to the London wing of TFT and know the founder Martin Hallett to say hello to. I am wary of criticism of TFT particularly as there are a lot of vulnerable ex-gays involved. They no longer preach that turning str8 is an option but preach celibacy which is an old Christian vocation and some people may choose this.
I would much rather people’s ire is turned on the many anti-gay preachers that are present within evangelicalism like Anne Atkins, Elaine Storkey, Michael Baughen, and all the other str8 bigots who are on the board of TFT. It is their support that keeps TFT going and their respective writings which give people ammunition to bully gay people. This is despite their support for women priests, usury, divorce and remarriage etc. It is these people’s bigoted hypocrisy our anger should be directed at.
Just a small correction, purely in the interests of accuracy. Ann Atkins, unless she has recently converted, is not a Catholic; she is an evangelical Anglican.
She nasty too!!
I started and ran a Gay Community Group without my parents knowing while I lived with them.
Parents need to be more aware than they are – that issues around sexuality can and do lead to suicide. Perhaps this is a good topic for Parent-Teacher meetings, helping parents to address the issues amongst themselves and then with their children. To let children know that they are loved no matter what their sexuality is. It’s too late when a parent says, ‘If only he’d told me…’ I know none of this is simple – or indeed easy, especially when a parent says ‘No child of mine could ever be gay so I’m not even going to consider it….’ but as with the early days of HIV/AIDS ‘Silence Kills’.
Schools and the media need to pro-actively get across the anti-homophobia message. As David Cameron put it – we need a change of culture.
There seems to be a discrepancy between this Pink News story, and this one in The Cotswold Journal, which claims Dominic’s father no longer believes his son was being bullied.
Well unless the person who says they are Dominics father on another thread is an imposter (which I very much doubt) then the story on PN is entirely in keeping with what they have said in debate with people on this site
I find this contradiction a concern
“I had no concerns that he would ever take his own life – in fact exactly the opposite. He was tenacious and determined,” said Mr Crouch.
Det Sgt Angela Middlewood said Dominic’s phone had shown a text message sent to 999 saying he was about to commit suicide.
My text above is taken from the Cotswold Journal
Courtesy of Daves link
I have written to the Cotswold Journal who did not attend the inquest saying they have seriously misrepresented my evidence to the inquest. I said that Dom had never reported bullying to us before his death. All 3 notes left by Dom, 2 to us, 1 to the school say he felt bullied. These were reported by the police to the inquest but they didnt go into details – “Im so sorry I have been really bullied this has led me to go and kill myself”. I had no reason to disbelieve this in May last year and nothing I have heard since causes me to disbelieve it now. We heard via the inquest that people had been texting things back to school and that Dom had been the butt of jokes. Its claimed this was “banter”. Thats not what I call it. But national policy says that bullying has to be intended to hurt or harm to be bullying an odd definition that gives perpetrators a get out clause and puts the onus on the victim. usually in English law actions are judged by their consequences not their intentions. I
Thank you for your patience and clarification again.
I hope you get an apology from the Cotswold Journal.
When I was a police officer (and I see no evidence that the law has significantly changed) it was always that you took your victim as you found them. So if you punched someone intending only minor injury but they died as they had a pre-existing condition you worsened and the punch caused the worsening then its simply manslaughter – the fact you intended ABH is irrelevant. I can’t see a logical justification for bullying to be different.
You might want to look at the letters page of today’s (7/4/11) Cotswold Journal.
I wanted to commit suicide at the age of 10years old because of the intolerable amount of bullying that I received from the hand of a few classmates, it started half way through primary school right the way through to the end of high school (luckily I was strong enough to cope) but I was the worst time of my life, because of it I didn’t get the grades I wanted…..Basically I was wishing my time at school would end….Every day!
I feel deep sympathy for this boys parents and to anybody that is suffering in silence……Please seek help.
P.S. I transitioned 6years ago and am now the happiest person alive, so I am glad I didn’t go through with it all those years ago.
Tamzin, i’m glad you are through that and much happier now. This story is about acceptance and rejection. Something many of us still struggle with. Its shameful that the school has apparently done nothing to address this type of bullying, I hope i’m wrong.
sadly I dont think you are. Dom was the 2nd pupil in one school year to take their own life at the school. I shall forever regret sending him there in the first place and not finding another school after poor Holly died in sept 09, but he’d really enjoyed his time at the Junior School and wanted to go up to the senior school with his mates. I also live daily with the bitter irony that I spent most of my professional life trying to keep kids safe and happy and in my darkest moments feel that I failed one of the two children that I most loved.
Sadly those that go through the most extreme situations in life end up being the best people to help others. I know I have used my experiences to help others who suffer the same problems, knowing that if it helps one or many, out of a bad situation can come some good.
Jock you are right and in my strong moments – which vastly outweigh my dark one’s – I am determined to honour the values he lived by and make a difference whether thats thru anti bullying work, making myself a pain with the authorities who dont learn the lessons or fund raising for the childrens hospital in S Africa. As the japanese warrior on what would have been Dom’s favourite playstation game says “Continuance is strength so I shall continue”!
Roger, I am so sorry of your loss, as we all are. I can’t imagine the pain you must be going through. Thank you so much for replying on this forum, you have really touched my heart and I will pray for you and your family. Deepest sympathy, Nicola.
Nicola thanks. It still hurts as much as it did nearly a year ago but it doesnt hurt as often or for so long. i want 2 things – justice for my son and everything possible learnt and done to ensure no more young lives are lost. thanks again x
I was badly bullied at school, my nickname was puff. But, instead of killing myself, I wasn’t quite so dramatic and just used to play truant when I’d had enough. I’d go home depressed (to a religious and poor family) and do something I enjoyed till I was smiling. I suspect that it wasn’t just a game of spin the bottle or some ‘gay rumours’ of someone who was straight (yeah right, we get the point, the lad was not gay (btw how the hell do this poor lads mum and dad know he wasn’t gay? My mum and dad didn’t find out until I was 17. Then they tried to get me to go to therapy and be ‘cured’. I told them to fukc off and moved to London). My point is, if you feel suicidal at that age, chances are there’s something very wrong in your surroundings. My advice would be to get out of the situation you are in – run away/move away from the people who are clearly making you feel like death, and be with people who help you choose life. It may not be the answer for everyone – but it worked for me.
Yes, his Dad is adamant his son wasn’t gay. It seems to me he protests too much. Its attitudes like these that promote homophobia and cause gay youth at lot of heartache. I know we should be talking about his parents like this but I feel that its his son and others like him we should be concerned for most.
shouldn’t (Where’s the edit function Pink News??)
Jamesh, I can give you examples of bullying where the victim did not die and the bullying was clearly based on perception (or maliciousness) rather than fact. Its not unreasonable to accept that this could be the case in this instance. The only person who may have known his sexuality for sure is Dominic. That said, the evidence his father presents suggests otherwise. Given the dignity and respectfulness of Dominics father and that he would know his son much better than any presumption that could be made by a stranger – I accept that Dom was probably heterosexual. In any case, its irrelevant whether Dom was gay or straight. The issue is more to do with bullying, harassment and homophobia – not the sexuality of the victim in this instance.
Go on, give me examples then or are you just using crass phrases to prove me wrong?
I’m not saying that its not unreasonable for this poor kid to have been straight I’m just saying that his father seems to be so adamant that he was! Like ‘choose life’ I’m wondering why its so important for his father to be so sure? Its attitudes like these that will drive more kids to kill themselves.
I’m very sad for poor Dominic and becoming increasingly intolerant of homophobic religious people. At least the headmaster of the school has now resigned and I’m sure the catholic church are paying him off as we speak!
No I am not using crass phrases – thanks for the insult to my integrity.
Are you happy with employment law cases or do you want me to provide some school related ones too?
Do you just want solid evidence based cases or are you happy for me to relay experience from my former career as a police officer?
Here is an employment law case which whilst in the workplace can be related to education:
I don’t take his dads tone at all (in either thread I have seen him comment in) to be strident in anything other than saying all bigotry and bullying is wrong. He has answered questions he has been asked, sure and that speaks of the dignity he has.
I don’t believe anything this father has said will be damaging to another child – in fact it may encourage others to think again if they were to read this when they see how loving and supportive this gentleman is.
Sorry for the insult Stu it wasn’t intended, I was just a bit annoyed as I thought you were trying to get me into a corner like a typical policeman ;) Sorry, I don’t like the filth – but maybe its because I haven’t had any good examples of them in my life!
Apology accepted – Thank You.
If you want other examples (both my experience and documented am happy to do so)
I know many people have had very poor experiences of the police. (I had to pick up the pieces of some of those bad experiences when I was an officer and have supported a couple of friends who had horrific experiences).
Given that we only have one police service in each geographic area (although most have some availability of alternate reporting methods), I am keen to ensure that we encourage LGBT people who are subject of hate related (or other) crime to report it and know what they should expect from the police.
I came out in a Catholic school in Liverpool at the age of 15 (Im 21 now). It was a pretty positive experience. I got the odd “queer” from the same lads but I was strong enough to argue back and not be arsed. We had lessons on homosexuality and it wasnt negative at all.
At the risk of being seen to protest too much or even being accused of homophobia one of the main reasons I believe that Dom was not gay is that in his notes which refer to the bullying he also said that what was being said and texted about him was not true.He also implied that the motivation was jealousy. I choose to believe my son and nothing i have heard since from either the inquest, the Child Death Review or from those who knew him has caused me to dis believe him.
I dont think that is homophobic in the slightest – merely saying things as you understand them based on a combination of your relationship with Dom, what the inquest showed, what the notes said, what others who knew Dom said etc etc You are far more likely than anyone else on here to know whether Dom was gay or not – ultimately no-one will ever know for total certainty, Dom may have formulated a different view in the future but it seems all the evidence is that this was unlikely from the information available.
You have maintained a very dignified and honest message through these threads which is helpful to many of us (I hope it is helpful to you in the main too). You have demonstrated you believed passionately in equality of all kinds. Personally, I think there is far more to gained from learning from this incident than there is speculating about the sexuality of Dom – to be fair, its irrelevant – the bullies had formed a prejudice whether correct or not. Thank You for your comment
Stu thanks. Obviously I agree with you. Im suprised by people who say Dom wouldnt have known his sexuality at 15, most of my gay friends say they knew at an early age, altho Ive also known people whove realised their true preferences later in life. Who knows? I’m going to some work locally and I hope nationally to combat bullying in general and homophobic bullying specifically as Ive been approached by a couple of LGBT organisations. Reading this thread it seems most people dont understand what a coroners court does – its who, when, where and how not why. And because bullying itself is not an offence the difficulty that the police have investigating it. Its also the reason for the intent clause in governemnt guidance to schools. Schools always go for damage limitation when a kid kills themselves and Dom was the 2nd pupil at his school to take their own life in one year.
“Schools always go for damage limitation when a kid kills themselves and Dom was the 2nd pupil at his school to take their own life in one year.”
I think this is disturbing!
I think this is very disturbing too! What have the school done to stop homophobic bullying? I see the headteacher has finally resigned but this won’t change anything unless some firm policies are put in place by the new person.
No problem, Roger. All the best with your work to improve things for the future. Bullying is an area that I have always felt does not have the right level of understanding universally in schools and elsewhere, some have amazing policies in place what actually work on a day to day basis – others merely have policies and some area atrocious. I also think the lack of ability of bullying to be considered (where appropriate) an offence can often make police impotent to deal with issues effectively. Each case is different and some will not require police involvement but some will.
Even professionals often fail to understand coroners court – the rules of evidence are different and the purpose is to determine cause of death and very little else.
Schools (and many public bodies – often wrongly) go for damage limitation – but where lives are involved that is wrong.
I will be looking for ways to support changes in this area that protect and support young people.
Actually the head “retired early” last June having assured me it had nothing to do with our meeting the day before. All but the very best schools find admitting that bullying is an issue hard, because if they get a bad reputation they could lose pupils and hence funding (I speak as an Ex Director of Education/Childrens Services for 2 large Councils). This is true of state and private schools – the main difference here being simply the cash value of each pupil and who pays. Homophobic bullying is even less well dealt with. How many teachers dare be openly gay or lesbian? Ive had young people tell me horrendous stories not only of bullying but of some teachers being complicit in it. And as you will know better than I there some places wher being openly gay is very dangerous. I was once attacked on the tube in the 80s when I was with one straight friend and 2 gay friends. The attackers did not distinguish between us.
The biggest bully in this country is the Catholic church and I see on the website of the school that Dom attended that they are committed to pastoral care rooted in Christian values. Does this include teaching that homosexuality is a sin and anyone who practices it is an abomination will go to hell ? Yeah. Brilliant. This kind of institutional homophobia feeds a climate of hatred that encourages bullying in schools and can lead to suicide. I should know, I tried to kill myself three times as I felt so alone. (there were no Graham Nortons in the 1960′s). As a magistrate I deal with hate crimes in the courts on a regular basis and I would champion a change in the law to cover the injustices that I read about regularly.
An excellent point badly bullied john. Sadly things will not change unless the system changes and those who wish to spread prejudice, discrimination and inequality are held to account.
This Tory Government wants the schools to have more independence : http://tinyurl.com/school-independence
As I remember my LGB Forum had great difficulty trying to get schools to tackle homophobic bullying. The problem was the school governors held the rains and they were a bunch of Tory Councillors, Judges, Parents and Religious people (so not a good mixture for tackling homophobic bullying). The head teacher was the public face and took all the flack. The governors on the other hand, totally controlled the school and St. Edward’s is not giving the names of the governors (its only giving the Clerk to the Governors name) so what have the governors got to hide by not giving there names??
I sometimes like hypothetical speculation, but having Tory Councillors, Judges, Parents and Religious people ‘could be handy’ for covering things up!
@badly bullied john….excellent post john. A big start in changing attitudes toward homosexuality would be total destruction of the “closet” Only when all people who are gay come out and say proudly “I am gay” will we begin to break down the prejudice and hatred. There are thousands of people in the UK alone who are hiding in the closet for whatever “reason”….politicians, teachers, judges, doctors, and on and on. While these people scurry around with their heads down, homosexuality will be mocked, scorned and derided. It is a sad indictment of the human race that so many years have passed since the death of Oscar Wilde and that we are still living in fear. Mind you the pink nellie primping crowd of psuedo wannabe women do us no favors. as is evidenced during pride marches from Moscow to San Francisco and all in between . I have to say that as a GAY out man i am mortified sometimes when in “straight” company and this sort of carry on is shown on the news
I do agree that it would be better if the closet was removed but surely it should be due to the individual.
There are many things people choose to not disclose about themselve including sexuality. It is their choice to some degree whether they do disclose or not.
That is not to dismiss that societal pressures and level of acceptance is a significant influence on choice to disclose or not.
@Stu Thats all very commendible but meanwhile there are thousands of young lads living in fear believing they are alone and to a large extent they are while these cowards choose to hide their very being. Societal pressure would soon ease were there to be an “out revolution” if you like where young gay and fearful lads would see that it really isn’t as bad as they had thought. Young gay men can have it all nowadays, including a family were they to see that there really are thousands of people just like them who are happy successful and fulfilled. Obviously i accept that it is ones personal choice whether or not to leave the closet, but one must see that that choice may have a huge and detrimental affect on many young vulnerable lives.
Its complex isnt it. It should always be up to the individual whether they choose to divulge their orientation or not to others. I personally found it was better than I imagined it would be – but even though it is socially easier to do so now than probably at any time in the past does not mean that it will be easy for everyone, None of us know the fears and the pressures that occur in anothers head. It shouldnt be about pressurizing others into coming out – it should be about giving them the confidence that they can.
“It is a sad indictment of the human race that so many years have passed since the death of Oscar Wilde and that we are still living in fear. Mind you the pink nellie primping crowd of psuedo wannabe women do us no favors. as is evidenced during pride marches from Moscow to San Francisco and all in between . I have to say that as a GAY out man i am mortified sometimes when in “straight” company and this sort of carry on is shown on the news”
Oscar Wilde WAS one of those “pink nellie primping crowd of psuedo wannabe women!” The media was mocking him as a ‘pansy’ long before they knew he was gay!
It’s the gender variant gays (AND lesbians) who made the initial great strides during the last century, because they COULDN’T hide who they were. There are written accounts by men in the 50s who tried to change the way they walked and talked so people wouldn’t know, and some just couldn’t pull it off, so they gave up trying to closet. Without ‘passing privilege’ they get the most abuse
Indeed it is a sad indictment
Howwever the reasons for the fear are complex – and sometimes not logical – each case will be very different.
Some cases, will be based on societal issues that we can have an influence on and should continue to strive to change and overcome. Some cases, will be due to false perceptions of responses or other false perceptions – and frankly the person with these false perceptions (I was one of them) needs to experience for themselves that the perceptions are false.
Ellen Degeneres, Rosie O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow in the US are proud, masculine, lesbians, and they have been embraced by most in the lesbian community (where they haven’t been, it’s not because of their gender variance but because of things that are ACTUALLY negative). Many of the sweetest, least bitchy people in the world are fem men, contrary to TV stereotypes. If you as a gay man with gender typical privilege think that feminine males don’t require positive representation and role models, then you need to research bullying and harrassment and MURDER of effeminate boys. A TODDLER in the USA was murdered for being feminine, and you think your needs as someone with passing privilege trumps the needs of a group like that? You have the option of blending, they don’t, at least not until they’re old enough to learn how to change their mannerisms and speech, which a lot of people find extremely difficult to learn and extremely tiring and self-esteem destroying to do if they even can.
Finally, it’s ironic that you suggest openly gender variant gays make it harder for other gays to be accepted. First of all, you resent them for acting in ways more typical of women, which is the same principle used against you for dating men. You’re disdained for liking men because it’s something women more typically do than men, ergo you’re breaching a gender norm. Why should THAT gender norm not matter, while not talking and moving like most men SHOULD matter? Second of all, fem males who aren’t gay could just as easily complain that by being gay, feminine gays make it difficult for straight feminine men to be destigmatised, and therefore they should suppress the gay part of themselves. How would YOU feel about a trait you have being called an inconvenient, unacceptable flaw embarrassing to some other group? And it’s SO much easier and less stressful to hide being gay than to hide being gender variant that it would be LESS cruel to expect them to pretend to be straight!
Came across this piece which might interest people. Jodi Picoult writes about her gay son.
I maybe completely wrong but I am getting the impression that bullying in schools is now rife – be it homophobic or another type based on some perceived difference and, at a time when we are supposed to have become a more tolerant and accepting society. It feels like things are getting worse not better. When I was at school 25 years ago, there certainly wasnt this level of bullying going on; teachers were aware of who the troublemakers were; kept an eye on them and were uncompromising in their discipline; they were very hostile towards bullies; it was absolutely not tolerated and we certainly felt safe at school. Suicide was unheard of! Teachers appeared to have much more automony back then. Now, they seem fearful of doing anything in case irate parents sue them or they face a misconduct charge or some such. All in all its bloody appalling that a boy of 15 should even contemplate suicide never mind actually do it. My heart breaks for his mum and dad. Its unfathomable.
Bullying is only bad in those schools that refuse to deal with it. Unless they take those schools that do and have a proven reduction in bullying as example this problem will not go away.
More action is needed to tackle bullying of all nature in schools, most of which comes from a lack of knowledge and understanding. I will say this is where Stonewall is doing good though how far they have gotten with their program I don’t know.
Dead right but the good schools recognise that bullying is a problem rather than denying. Any school that says bullying is not an issue here is lying – its always a potential problem just as it is in any work place. It was sickening at the inquest to hear the ex head quote from an inspection report about how good pupil relations were at the school and how wonderful their pastoral care was in a school where 2 kids have taken their own lives in one year. He also described Dom as “marginal” – he meant academically but the word spoke volumes.
Absolutely every school either has a problem with bullying or a potential problem with bullying. Some schools have better strategies to deal with it than others. Those that either are not actively ensuring their culture is positively embracing of all differences and against all forms of bullying are failing to deal with the issue effectively.
Again dead right. Good anti bullying policies do more than supress bullying they promote positive attitudes to all types of difference and a culture of mutual respect and zero tolerance of discrimination. I’d add that good schools dont just have good policies they make sure they implemented effectively not just fine words on a piece of paper for Inspectors to look at.
A school I know had a OFSTED inspection and rather than tackle the bullying the head teacher expelled 3 gay boys so that the inspectors would not find a bulling problem. Giving the schools more independence (as the Tories want to do) would make the problem worse or better?
@ Cleggy …What grounds did the head use to expel the three boys. I doubt that he could legally expel the boys because they were gay. We aren’t yet equal but being expelled just for being gay would most certainly cause a problem for the head legally speaking. He would fall foul of at least three equality laws. I’m afraid you must have missed something in the telling of the story.
Not in 2004
“A school I know had a OFSTED inspection and rather than tackle the bullying the head teacher expelled 3 gay boys so that the inspectors would not find a bulling problem.”
Hi Cleggy, come and join us at Media Watch on “My” Pinknews; we need to bring this story to the attention of the media.
@ Cleggy ……. “equality laws” Not in 2004. Where in your “story” did you say 2004. However the head would still need a legitimate reason to expel the boys and even in 2004 being gay just wouldn’t cut the mustard. Care to try again. I don’t think fiction advances the argument one iota.
Are you really that naive that you can’t see that if people want to get rid of ‘undesirables’ they will make any excuse in order to do it. Don’t for a minute think it doesn’t happen.
Some schools seem to forget that they are teaching children and treating pupils like this is wrong and very damaging.
Equality laws may now be in place making it more difficult but I would think in some places it still goes on.
@cleggy…. well no i am not naive, certainly not naive enough to believe your obvious fiction of a story. How did the media “deal” with the story at the time. I’m sure you would have reported it to all and sundry at the time. The Daily Mail probably had a field day with it?
You really should blame other people when respond to my messages. If you don’t want to reply to me don’t but don’t go balming innocent people for things they haven’t said.
You shouldn’t blame…
I did contact the media!
I contacted the Panorama Program (BBC TV) and I told them what had happened. But unfortunately the 3 boys weren’t prepared to go on camera and even Stonewall wanted to do an investigation, but frustratingly the boys refused. The BBC subsequently made a program called “why bullies win” (http://tinyurl.com/yzd3n8n) which made bulling in schools a 2005 general election issue.
JohnK PN wont let me join Media Watch.
@ Cleggy .” Are you really that naive that you can’t see that if people want to get rid of ‘undesirables’ they will make any excuse in order to do it. Don’t for a minute think it doesn’t happen.”
Sorry I attributed the quoted paragraph to you, but it was actually someone else butting into our convo regarding your piece about the 3 kids suspended. Again sorry.
you really are the lowest pathetic form ain’t ya.
I am astounded that you could call someone a liar (which is clearly what you are doing to Cleggy) without any evidence that this is the case. If you do have evidence please do share it.
I can believe that what he is saying is true. I havent seen the precise situation he mentions but I have seen bodies fabricate and manipulate to get a result they want.
The Stonewall report on homophobic bullying states that 75% of young gay people in faith schools are bullied badly. This is a shocking statistic, and especially so since the Catholic church insists that no separate teaching on this subject is necessary as “sex is for within marriage”. So until the government forces faith schools to tackle this problem many more kids, gay or straight, will be bullied, sometimes to death. Since reading about Dom’s inquest a few days ago I have been so angry over his tragic suicide and saddened for his family. My deepest sympathies go out to them.
Thanks John. I suspect from professional and personal experience that young gays are disproportianity victimised by bullies. Bullies will however pick on any perceived weakness or difference. I was bullied in the late 60′s by people who thought my mums terminal illness was a thing to poke fun at and because my mum wasnt English. I think the single most important issue is to remove the “we didnt mean it” defence. Its not banter its bullying, its cowardly and vile, its meant to hurt and demean. Judge behaviour by its consequences not by the claimed intentions of the perpetrator. if I drive like an idiot and kill someone its no defence for me to say I didnt intend it. Yet bullies say it was all in good fun, we didnt mean it and coroners say “normal teenage behaviour”. sorry i just dont buy it. getting angry now so time to sign off. Btw police very helpful re homophobe bigot who commented on the other thread – i hope he’s located and arrested.
I think most of you are missing the underlying problem for much of the gay-bashing, bullying, violence towards the GLBT community. You’re blaming it on various Christian groups.
Instead the way I see it is that there is a decline in “true” Christianity and less and less are following
the truth and principles that were given to us by Jesus Christ, and
are accepting that of leaders of various denominations — most of these leaders/teachers are not true Christians in the name of Jesus Christ. Many are false teachers/believers and will receive their punishment in due time, so don’t paint all Christians with the same broad brush.
Actually it’s ‘various religious groups’ not just the one. They have a lot to answer for. Discrimination esp in schools should Never be acceptable.
true christian is an example of the “no true scotsman’ fallacy and it’s stupid, any time people refer to true something it’s only cos the subject agrees with their views/beliefs
various christian groups are to blame but they (like you) never see that
That is religion for you.
They fail to see what they accuse others of doing, when the accused are not doing anything, is actually what they themselves are doing.
They accuse others of agendas when there is only a religious agenda.
They accuse people that what they are born is a choice yet is it only religion that is chosen.
They accuse everyone of picking on them when they feel they should have the right to discriminate.
They just don’t want to see nor interested in see it.
OK I get it no one else here cares about the nasty name-calling of gender nonconformists (the ones who are statistically the most likely to BE bullied and commit suicide, look it up) that went uncommented on above. I guess this website is really for entirely cis-gendered gays and everyone else can just bloody well hide from public view lest we undermine your precious privilege. Sorry that since you’ve chosen to come out at whatever age you were when you decided it was safe enough, you feel threatened holding your BF’s hand in the park all because of the selfishness of those whose only complaint is peer and parental abuse starting from the age of three.
I think that is also an important aspect to bullying – not one I have experienced either as a victim nor as a professional when dealing with bullying.
Surely, some of the reasons of this site are to discuss personal experiences and views – its far easier to talk about things you know about closely.
I would be interested in knowing more about what you have to say about gender nonconforming bullying
Nothing I have personally said on here is meant to suggest that other forms of bullying exist and need to be tackled with the same level of urgency
I was referring to the ‘sissyphobic’/gender normative/whatever you want to call it, comment by Paddyswurds that I responded to above. In your response to that you seem to have mistaken at least the first part of my quote for my own words, so I’m not sure whether it’s clear to you what I was saying, but basically I balked at the hypocrisy of someone arguing against social punishment of one gender norm violation (as men dating men is essentially just another gender norm violation – something men aren’t expected to do and women are) while at the same time wanting to distance himself from and BLAME people displaying certain other gender norm violations, i.e. being ‘pseudo wannabe women’ as he put it. Why put a circle around ONE gender norm infraction – the you happen to display – and say THIS ONE is fine and it’s wrong to bully people for it, but in every other way, people with penises should try to act how most other people with penises happen to act?
Thanks. I hadn’t looked at those comments with that thought process and have had a chance to look at them freshly – I am in absolute agreement with you – Surely, you either accept all LGBT presentations equally or you are prejudiced in some manner. It is really that black and white – its not possible to pick and mix acceptability and say a certain presentation of orientation or gender is acceptable and another is not. Unfortunately, some people do – and that to me, is as prejudiced as the conventional bigots we all strive to condemn.
This may be the uninformed view of a straight man, but isn’t it really as simple as asserting that we all have the right to be ourselves and to discover ourselves without fear of hatred and ridicule. I maintain that the only difference by which we should judge each other is the content of our characters and the way we behave ie the things which are, to a greater or lesser extent choices which we make rather than the things which are given. And where we do differ civility is preferable to nastiness.
It’s a massive relief to read that Stu, I was more concerned by the fact that no one else challenged those words than by the words themselves. Roger Crouch hits it on the head too. It doesn’t make sense to support transgendered people as part of LGBT advocacy, but not those who aren’t gender variant ENOUGH to be called transgendered! “You can behave in a gender typical way, or be COMPLETELY gender nonconforming and get a sex change, nothing in between!” Such a strange position to take. Media portrayals of feminine gay men as bitchy and shallow are part of the problem, it would be like portraying all feminine female characters as the bitchy and shallow type of girl. We all know some girly girls, and some feminine men are like that, but most aren’t. Thanks for having the integrity to re-examine something and openly change your take on it. :-)
Unfortunately in this case see video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itpwloMfpco Social Services, Police, Education, Youth Services, Intercom Trust (spits on floor), Stonewall, Navy Family welfare, Andrew George Mp, Ombudsman, IPCC were ALL contacted and NONE (NOT BLOODY ONE) of them would lift a bloody finger to assist the homeless 15yr old gay youth, being homophobically bullied & abused by the vile Cornish homophobic authorities.
Fortunately, Peter (22yrs old ths year) did not commit suicide & is still a tenant of the pensioner who took him in (my mum).
…and the vile homophobes of the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary STILL continue to bully, intimidate & harrass, lie & point blank refuse to investigate the catalogue of police homophobic abuses.
The problem of homophobic bullying in schools is firmly embedded within institutions by the institutions wishing to cover up incidents …nothing has changed apart from spin & mirrors about equality & diversity .