More evidence student anti-gay bullying rampant

By Anne Collier

More than half of self-identified gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) 11-to-22-year-olds surveyed said they’d been cyberbullied in the past 30 days, reports. The study, by Iowa State University researchers Warren Blumenfeld and Robyn Cooper, “appears in the LGBT-themed issue of the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, being released March 15,” Futurity adds. It was an online survey of “444 junior high, high school, and college students between the ages of 11 and 22–including 350 self-identified non-heterosexual subjects” (here’s an audio interview at CNET by ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid with Dr. Blumenfield). An earlier study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and Harris Interactive I blogged about found that LGBT youth are “up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.” I have to repeat the profound words of New York Times columnist Charles Blow after two children’s suicides last year which reportedly involved anti-gay bullying: “Children can’t see their budding lives through the long lens of wisdom – the wisdom that benefits from years passed, hurdles overcome, strength summoned, resilience realized, selves discovered and accepted, hearts broken but mended and love experienced in the fullest, truest majesty that the word deserves. For them, the weight of ridicule and ostracism can feel crushing and without the possibility of reprieve.” [See also my blog post “Cyberbullying better defined.”]

Meanwhile, preliminary results of another bullying project of researchers at the University of Ottawa and McMaster University show “that bullying can produce signs of stress, cognitive deficits and mental-health problems,” the Toronto Globe & Mail reports. Lead researcher Tracy Vaillancourt said her team knows brains under bullying conditions are functionally different (act differently) but doesn’t yet know if there’s a structural difference, and to find out they’ll do brain scanning of 70 victims they’ve been following for five years. Vaillancourt “says she hopes her work will legitimize the plight of children who are bullied, and encourage parents, teachers and school boards to take the problem more seriously.”

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