via Salon.com, by Thomas Rogers
When 18-year-old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, he meant to kill himself -- he probably didn't mean to spark a national uproar. But Clementi's death, along with a series of ensuing gay teen suicides, has prompted an intense conversation over the problem of anti-gay bullying. Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project," a video project aimed at gay teens, has solicited heartbreaking contributions from everyone from President Obama to Tim Gunn (who admitted his own early suicide attempt) to the employees of Google.
But gay suicide is hardly a new problem -- and, by most accounts, homophobia is on the decline in American culture. So why are we suddenly so concerned? As Stuart Biegel, a professor at the UCLA School of Law, explains in his new book, "The Right to be Out," anti-gay prejudice remains a pervasive problem in American schools. Despite tremendous legal strides over the past two decades, gay students are still punished more severely than their straight counterparts, their pleas for help are often ignored, and, most surprisingly, many LGBT teachers still feel enormous pressure to remain in the closet for fear of reprisal from parents.
Salon spoke to Biegel over the phone about the current state of gay bullying laws, what parents can do if their kids are attacked and the flaws of the "It Gets Better" campaign.
Read the interview.
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