Proud Parents Of LGBT Kids Needed!

Greetings,Gay or straight, our kids are great

My mother (Deb Eckheart) and I are starting an exciting new project entitled Pride Parents. These will be short Q&A style videos where we recruit parents who have LGBT kids (ranging in age from youth to adults) to share their stories and impart wisdom from a parent’s perspective regarding lessons learned around making a safe and inclusive environment for a child to explore their identities (including, but not limited to, sexual orientation and gender expression). This video idea came about through conversations my mother and I had around how the coming out process doesn’t only apply to LGBT people, but also to their family and friends who have the inner journey of coming to terms with their loved one’s newfound identity as well as the parent’s own path toward acceptance – wherever that may be on the spectrum.

Although there are some LGBT organizations present in larger Montana communities throughout the state, we would like to produce a video that could help raise awareness about creating a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBT youth while providing a bridge to accessing parental support (through PFLAG, PRIDE, etc.). Through a video format (to be posted on YouTube), we hope to target an audience of families who are unsure but want to be supportive of their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity by addressing the following: advice on how to make it safe for their child to come out, how parents can receive their own support during this process, and how to be an ally for their child. Ideally, this would become a pilot project that could spur additional videos, much like the It Gets Better Project, where families can create their own videos, sharing personal stories and lessons learned to create an online wealth of support and knowledge for parents of LGBT youth. At this time, we would like to promote the initial video as a representation of Montana parents only, but with possible opportunities in other states.

So this is where you come in. If you are interested in sharing your perspective on film or have any questions about the project, please contact Deb Eckheart or Alyx Steadman for more information and the list of Q&A prompts. Remember, your experience doesn’t have to be perfect. The importance of this video is to share real stories about overcoming the challenges for parents of LGBT youth, so the more honest you are with your perspective, the more enlightening it will be for other struggling parents coming to terms with their child’s newfound identities.

Thank you for your willingness to consider working with us on this project. We look forward to hearing from you by Sunday, August 4th.

Warmly,

Alyx Steadman alyxsteadman@msn.com 406.369.5221

Deb Eckheart doyourdreams@hotmail.com 406.360.6796

Montana LGBT Youth At Increased Risk for Suicide

Today, a groundbreaking piece in the Billings Gazette:

Icon for Wikimedia project´s LGBT portal (Port...

Icon for Wikimedia project´s LGBT portal (Portal:LGBT). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting through adolescence is hard enough.

There’s the agony of puberty, the mood swings and the withering self-consciousness. Then comes the clumsiness of emerging sexuality.

It can be overwhelming.

For some young people, the passage can be even more daunting. For a few Montana kids coming to terms with their attraction to the same gender — in a religious and rural culture that doesn’t always know what to make of them — the challenge can be deadly.

A 2009 survey of more than 7,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender middle and high school students aged 13 to 21 found that in the past year, at least eight of 10 students had been verbally harassed at school; four of 10 had been physically harassed; six of 10 felt unsafe at school; and one of five had been the victim of a physical assault, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

LGBT youth also are at far greater risk for suicide. A national study of adolescents in grades seven to 12 found that LGBT youth were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers.

There is little specific research in Montana concerning how much of a role sexual orientation plays in youth suicides, said Karl Rosston, Montana’s suicide prevention coordinator. However, national studies have shown about 15 percent of youth who reported suicide attempts also reported same-sex attraction or relationships.

In Montana between 1999 and 2009, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24, behind unintentional injuries like auto and farm accidents.

In the two years between 2010 and 2011, at least 57 youth ages 15 to 24 killed themselves in Montana.

It’s difficult to figure the current number of gays and lesbians in Montana. However, according to a report from the Williams Institute, a national think tank at UCLA researching sexual orientation issues, there were 1,600 same-sex couples in Montana as of 2005, up from 1,200 in 2000. This number is almost certainly higher, especially since the study didn’t include youth. The number of male couples and female couples were nearly evenly split, with 806 men and 853 women.

About 2.6 percent of Montana’s population — around 26,000 people — is gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to the report.

Teen suicide is a microcosm of what’s happening throughout the state, which has had one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation for more than 30 years. Consider that during 2010, at least 227 Montanans took their own lives. Another 225 people committed suicide in 2011.

D Gregory Smith, a Bozeman-based licensed mental health counselor and executive director of AIDS Outreach, counsels LGBT high school and college students, gay men and a handful of heterosexual men and women. He also counsels parents wondering if their child’s sexual preference can be changed, although he doesn’t believe that’s possible. He counsels parents on how they can better understand their child’s sexuality.

Most of his youth and young adult clients have contemplated suicide.

“Their biggest fear is believing they cannot have a good life,” said Smith, a former Catholic priest who is gay and HIV-positive. “They believe they cannot stay in Montana, be who they are and be happy.”
There’s so much more here: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/lgbt-youth-at-increased-risk-for-suicide/article_d7e8360a-f437-5ba6-8d03-8aeb2d67d701.html#ixzz2MVkAw1EE

Marry Them Today

From Sean Chapin- a new song and video aimed at people voting about marriage equality in Minnesota, Maine, Washington and Maryland. From Sean:

“Next month, four states will be voting on marriage equality: Washington, Maine, Minnesota and Maryland. With this in mind, I’ve written an original song and produced a music video in hopes of helping change the hearts and mind of voters in these four states, and it is called “Marry Them”. Please feel free to share this video to those you know. “

And yeah, I teared up.

Newest Ad For WA Marriage Equality

“You Are Loved”

I’ve written about the importance of Rural Pride Celebrations before- but if you want to see it firsthand, or if you ever wondered what the 2011 Montana Pride Celebration was like- well wonder no more.

Wet Paint Studios beautifully chronicled the event with this amazing piece of film:

From the Wet Paint Studios’ description:

“You Are Loved” is a documentary chronicling Montana Pride- celebrating the diversity of all walks of life.

The documentary explores what it means to be an LGBTQI in Montana, a rural state of not even a million people. The response from the community in Bozeman, MT was overwhelming, and without it, this documentary would not be possible. Enjoy the show!

Bozeman PFLAG

Last night I told my story to a lovely group of people at the Bozeman PFLAG meeting- and it occurred to me that maybe more people need to know about PFLAG and what they do.

From their website:

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters and over 350 affiliates in the United States. This vast grassroots network is cultivated, resourced and serviced by the PFLAG National Office, located in Washington, D.C., the national Board of Directors and 13 Regional Directors.

A great group of people invested in LGBT equality. And they’re special because they represent the best of our allies- our parents, neighbors, siblings and friends- as well as LGBT persons.

Equality will only happen when the majority of Americans- who are not gay- realize and accept the ordinary reality of LGBT persons and their human desires for a beautiful life.

Bozeman’s group is fantastic- and they could use any extra support and encouragement you might be willing to give. Thank you all for a great evening!

Go ahead and look them up. Their Facebook page is here.

Study: Bullying Leads To Dangerous Risks For LGBT Youth

A new study in The Journal Of School Health gives another reason to protect school-age LGBT’s from bullying and threats of violence. This is the first study to examine school victimization in adolescence in relation to physical and mental health in later life- and the results are not surprising:

“We now have evidence of the lasting personal and social cost of failing to make our schools safe for all students. Prior studies have shown that school victimization of LGBT adolescents affects their health and mental health. In our study we see the effects of school victimization up to a decade later or more. It is clear that there are public health costs to LGBT-based bullying over the long-term,” said lead author, Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, University of Arizona.

Those public health costs include higher suicide attempts, increased risk of contracting STD’s (including HIV), and greater levels of anxiety and depression- mostly due to decreased levels of self-worth directly related to victimization.

Key Research Findings:

  • LGBT young adults who reported high levels of LGBT school victimization during adolescence were 5.6 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.6 times more likely to report a suicide attempt that required medical care, 2.6 times more likely to report clinical levels of depression, 2.5 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, and nearly 4 times more likely to report risk for HIV infection, compared with peers who reported low levels of school victimization.
  • Gay and bisexual males and transgender young adults reported higher levels of LGBT school victimization than lesbian and bisexual young women.
  • LGBT young adults who reported lower levels of school victimization reported higher levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction and social integration compared with peers with higher levels of school victimization during adolescence.

This provides substantial scientific evidence to create safer environments for our youth. Please share with school administrators, teachers and parents.

San Francisco State University. “School bullying, violence against LGBT youth linked to risk of suicide, HIV infection.” ScienceDaily, 16 May 2011. Web. 17 May 2011.