I remember a nation finally waking up, bewildered, after Tyler Clementi, the 18 year-old Rutgers student, jumped off the George Washington Bridge because his roommate secretly recorded him fooling around with another guy.
But it didn’t end. That very next week, Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head in Texas; and Harrison Chase Brown (15), Raymond Chase (19), Felix Sacco (17) and Caleb Nolt (14) had all taken their lives.
I’m sad that I cannot remember Cody J. Barker, 17, who hanged himself earlier in the month in Wisconsin, my home state.
This rash of suicides by so many kids struck our nation at its core. Finally, we were hearing stories. Finally, we could not longer pretend to ignore the fact that every last one of them was gay. Finally, we were forced to ask: Why? Why is this happening? Are gay kids weaker, more fragile than the rest of us? Can they not take a joke? Why would so many of them choose to end their lives – as if there were an epidemic? What could ever be so bad? More to the point, whose fault is it?
School bullies were to blame. Bullies relentlessly harass and intimidate their piers who are—or are perceived to be—queer. They have our kids’ blood on their hands.
But where do these kids who bully learn to bully? Who tells them it’s okay? Do we really believe ourselves when we say that they are the main problem?
We know better. We know that the way certain people misuse religion is the primary source of all the harm that is done to people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. (In fact, Bishop Gene Robinson says that people of faith are “95% the source of all the oppression we LGBT people have experienced in our lives.”)
This week The New York Times reports that the American Family Association, an extremist religious group, is taking aim at a project called Mix It Up Day, where children are asked to sit with someone at lunch who they wouldn't normally sit with.  The American Family Association is calling the project “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools” and – even worse – is telling parents to keep their children home from school on Mix It Up Day, October 30th.
Already 200 schools have canceled the event. We have to speak up.
We also know that bullying is a behavior, not an identity. Kids can bully, but they are not, inherently, bullies. When we come together in solidarity, when we voice our values of the inherent dignity of all people, we can curb bullying.
Today is Spirit Day, the annual day in October when millions of Americans wear purple to speak out against bullying and to show their support for LGBT youth.
As people of faith and moral commitment, we wear purple because we know the harm that some of our brothers and sisters have done “in God’s name” to LGBT youth. We wear purple in solidarity, in friendship, in moral commitment to take a stand against bullying no matter where we find it – so that all people can live free of fear, intimidation and shame for simply being who they were born to be.
Today, we’re all purple.
Jake Goodman is the Director of the Groundswell of Courage campaign for LGBT dignity.
 As far as I know, no lesbian, bisexual or transgender youth killed themselves in September 2010. Beyond this relatively narrow frame of time, of course, LBT kids took and continue to take their lives. The media just hasn’t reported on it as much.
An interfaith group of over 200 clergy, council members, leaders, and community members gathered on the steps of NY City Hall to call for real reforms ...
We have very exciting news – local and national leaders are joining the fight to keep Angela home in Philadelphia with her family!
I’m so grateful for Groundswell, and I’m not the only one. They’re helping inspire and equip people of faith and moral courage to heal the world and make an impact every day. I hope you’ll join me this year in showing Groundswell some love, and making their work possible.
I’m writing you from DC where we hand-delivered 15,000 Sanctuary petition signatures TWICE in meetings with key decision makers – (1) yesterday, at an action in Senator Mitch McConnell’s office, we met with the soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader’s Chief of Staff, and (2) today in a meeting with high-level officials from the Department of Homeland Security.
Come join us on Friday afternoon, December 12th at 3:30pm for “Prayer, Praise, and Peaceful Protest: A Prophetic Response to Violence” on the steps of New York City Hall.
People of faith and moral courage – including pastors, rabbis, and imams – across New York are calling out for justice, accountability and reform after a grand jury in Staten Island failed to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the homicide of Eric Garner.