David McFarland, acting Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project joins MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts to discuss the spike in anti-gay bullying, teen suicides, “no promo homo” policies, and Michele Bachmann.
McFarland says that yes, he absolutely believes that the anti-gay policies — known as “no promo homo” – at the Anoka-Hennepin school district, which is Michele Bachmann’s alma mater, and in others around the nation are to blame for the spike in teen suicides, and thinks Michele Bachmann “has not made change in that district.”
Transcript via MSNBC:
>>> blaming the school’s policies.
>>> and the tragedy in oslo. is the man a terrorist?
>>> welcome back. it is a mental health crisis. it is now under federal investigation in minnesota. nine teens openly gay or perceived as take in as we talk about the one district. the district is denying any role in the bullying or the suicides. when we look at it from the aspect of parents and the people that are living through this, i want you to take a listen to what one mom whose son committed suicide said this week.
>> teachers don’t speak one way or the other. often times bullying gets overlooked. staff know about it. they don’t intervene. when things are reported, there is no follow through on it. i found out after justin died that according to one of his friends, he, according to a counselor in the school, he was at the top of her worry list. i never got a phone call.
>> david, do you believe the school district’s policies and the one that is referred to as “no homo promo” and that is the cause for the spike in the suicides there?
>> absolutely, thomas. it is an unfortunate situation we are seeing in the country and certainly needs to be addressed.
>> david, it is important to point out there are eight other states limited to instruction on homosexuality. this is a map that limits instruction on homosexuality. alabama and arizona and also in louisiana and mississippi, south carolina, utah. when we think about this and see what is going on in these states, what are you hearing from your colleagues about similar rises in bullying and suicides in those areas?
>> it is an issue that needs to be addressed in the country. there are individuals addressing this topic. it needs to change. youth in our schools should be able to be provided with a safe place. if they are feeling isolated or alone or in crisis, they should be able to have the resources in those schools to reach out and to be able to have those conversations whether it is with a counselor or teacher or administration.
>> david, critics say minnesota school policy on homosexuality has been pushed by conservative religious groups. one letter was, ” open your eyes, people, parents, do you really want your children attending a gsa where homosexual behavior is affirmed?” david, i can only imagine what it is like for an lgbt youth to hear that. what can a trevor project do for students and parents in the district?
>> thomas, it is a great question. this is a harmful message for the youth to be hearing. particularly in our schools. you know, we at the trevor project are there around the clock with a number of programs. the trevor lifeline is a 24/7 lifeline that youth can reach out. if they are feeling alone or isolated, they can speak to someone on the other end that is a trained counselor. we, at the trevor project, have workshops like our lifeguard workshop that addresses suicide prevention which is being presented and discussed across the country in many school districts. in fact, in the school district area in the county that you are talking about, we made numerous attempts to make ourselves available to the superintendent to the district to put those workshops into the schools. we have been denied that conversation. we have been in that area with other schools whether it be public or private instituting the workshops to help the teachers and help educate the school systems that are really in need to provide services for your youth and families.
>> this is congresswoman michele bachmann’s district. she hasn’t commented on these cases that have been happening at her alma mater high school. do you think politics is playing too much a risk here when it comes to saving at-risk youth?
>> politics plays a role, but at the end of the day, we are all human beings. michele bachmann has a voice. she can use that voice with a powerful message. how she chooses to use that voice to this point has not made change in the school district. there are many great voices to help create that change. michele is one individual that can make that happen. you know, we talk on a consistent basis with many politicians across the country and walk the halls of the congress and senate. we talked to both sides of the aisle. democrat and republican. everyone wants our youth to feel safe and have the educational programs to help school systems across this country. why this school system doesn’t want that is a big question. that needs to change.
>> david mcfarland from the trevor project. thanks for your time. i want to pass along to everyone out there, if you or someone is feeling bullied or at risk of suicide for anyone across the board. it doesn’t matter if you are part of the lgbt community. you can call the trevor project lifeline at 866-488-7386. this lifeline is free and confidential.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.