An inspiring story for going back to school…. You may remember me writing about Caleb Laieski, a 16 year old bullied youth from Arizona. Caleb was revently invited to the White House to share his experience as a bullied teen. Laieski was one of a few youth chosen to meet with President Obama for a photo opportunity. When they met, he proposed to President Obama that the administration appoint an LGBT youth advisor to the President. The advisor would serve as a liaison between the Obama Administration and our nation’s LGBT youth population to specifically address anti-LGBT bullying and other major issues that LGBT youth face and seek appropriate and immediate solutions. Laieski refused to accept bullying as a rite of passage for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) teens. Raising funds and creating awareness, he took his passion to Washington, DC where he used his personal experience to lobby Washington lawmakers on the Student Non-Discrimination Act. After meeting with almost 200 different legislators and various administrative offices in just 22 days, Laieski worked on Capitol Hill to promote a safe schools bill; The Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 998 – S. 999). With his personal experience on bullying, he was invited to speak with the Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, to discuss the effect that bullying has on today’s lesbian and gay youth and the dire situation bullying creates for at-risk youth. The story stuck with Secretary Sebelius – a few days later, Laieski was included in the Secretary’s speech at the first-ever Federal LGBT Youth Summit that was held by the Department of Education.
Bullying has taken many at-risk LGBT youth and a recent study shows, that LGBT youth who come from “highly rejecting” families are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGBT peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. In a tragic event that struck too close to home, Laieski lost a close friend his age to suicide last year. This friend had endured similar bullying- and Caleb has had several other close friends attempt suicide due to the same systematic and sustained harassment in public schools.
Reluctant to create more pain from his experience, Laieski has begun channeling his inner pain in a positive way by becoming a strong personal advocate for bullied LGBT Youth- an inspiring story, especially as students head back to school.
We’ll keep you informed about the LGBT Youth Advisor to The President….
More about Caleb here.