Hundreds gathered for vigil to prevent LGBT suicides

October 9, 2010 12:40:38 AM PDT
Hundreds of people came together in San Francisco Friday night, to bring attention to the growing problem of suicide among gay and transgender young people. They want schools to do more to protect LGBT students from bullying and they are calling for legislation.

Davd Melson the executive director of Affirmation Gay and Lesbian Mormons read off the names of 12 young gay and lesbian youth who have committed suicide in the past two months.

"There are hundreds, if not thousands, each year that commit suicide," said rally participant Robert Moore.

Moore is also with Affirmation. He shared his experience of being a Mormon gay teen in Oregon who managed to survive the bullying he says leads so many to suicide.

"I was picked on every day, I was called names every day, I was literally chased home every day from school," said Moore.

Affirmation organized the rally and candlelight vigil which drew several other organizations and more than 300 people to San Francisco's Civic Center.

The rally is meant to bring attention to the suicides of young LGBT men and women like 18-year-old Tyler Clementi with the hope of preventing further tragedy.

Clementi killed himself after a video of him with another young man was posted on the Internet.

His is just the latest in a series of suicides that many of those attending the rally blame on ignorance bigotry and a lack of school support. Many say a new law is needed.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act now before Congress would require schools that receive federal funding to implement bullying prevention programs aimed specifically at anti-gay harassment.

Erin Carder McCoy is a San Francisco school teacher. She says most schools just can't seem to or don't want to deal with the problems of these youth.

"I don't think the resources are readily available enough and I think the teachers and staff need to be more trained on how to interact with these kids and the bullies that are tormenting them," says Carder McCoy.

The rally supporters say the youth should be told they have to survive, that it does get better.

Friday night's procession went from Civic Center to the Castro District where they placed their candles at Harvey Milk Plaza.


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