Posted by: newperspectives85 | September 3, 2013

anti-gay bullying effort to the Hill 3.28.13

Manassas student takes anti-gay bullying effort to the Hill

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 1:48 pm, Thu Mar 28, 2013.

Keith Walker | For Prince William Today | 14 comments

Liam Arne, an Osbourn High School junior, said bullying and discrimination directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students is commonplace in schools.

The 17-year-old said he remembers hearing slurs as early as the 5th grade.

“They use words like ‘faggot’ or ‘dyke’ or ‘That’s so gay,’ in a negative fashion,” he said. “I haven’t gone through a school day without hearing words like that. Some students just don’t think before they speak and that can create a very uncomfortable environment.”

Arne said a 2011 National School Climate Survey, conducted by Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network, showed that more than 80 percent of LGBT students had been verbally harassed at school.

But Arne isn’t going to just sit around and take it. He’s decided to work as hard as he can to eliminate the prejudice, and he intends to use politics to further his goals.

Arne recently attended the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network‘s annual Safe Schools Advocacy Summit in Washington, with roughly 40 other high school and college students who were there to speak up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender or LGBT students, and other students who have been bullied.

Those who attended the summit aimed their efforts at lobbying legislators who might help pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Arne, who was attending his second summit, said staffers representing Democratic senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine visited the students along with Republican staffers from and Rep. Frank Wolf’s office.

Arne said he understands that some in Congress might consider bullying a local issue that shouldn’t be elevated to the national level. He thinks speaking up at such summits can only help.

“They do hear a personal story about bullying and realize the severity and how it can be stopped,” he said of the staffers who could take the message back to their bosses.

A GLSEN press release showed that Arne was chosen to attend the summit based on his leadership of the Gay Straight Alliance at his school.

Arne said he hasn’t been bullied “extensively,” but said he won’t stand by and allow “beautiful, wondrous young people to be harassed and assaulted by their peers for being no one other than themselves.”

“I have seen too many students fall prey to the insipid words and actions perpetrated upon them by ignorant classmates, teachers, or administrations, or even parents and other family members,” Arne wrote in an email following a phone interview with and Prince William Today.

“Everyone deserves a safe school environment void of wicked cruelty and torturous misunderstandings, allowing them to thrive to their zenith, unfolding a brighter future for all Americans,” Arne wrote. “This is not a right given only to the rich, the white, the straight, the Christian, the pretty, the cool, the popular, the intelligent, the thin, or the fully-abled; our sacred Constitution guarantees us the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The GLSEN release stated that the network would be working with Arne throughout the year to support safe schools organizations and advocacy efforts in Virginia.

Arne said has plans.

“I hope to lead some workshops in my community, especially to youth, about how we can become engaged in the political sphere,” he said.

He also stands ready to talk to people who are “looking for a little guidance on what they could do and what they should do better.”


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