Raising awareness of LGBTQ tragedies

The UNC-Chapel Hill LGBTQ Center extends our deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the recent deaths and injuries in our communities:

  • Raymond Chase hung himself in his dorm room Sept. 29, on the campus of Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Seth Walsh, 13, of Bakersfield, Calif. died Sept. 28 after nine days on life support after hanging himself from a tree in his backyard.
  • Asher Brown, 13, eighth-grader at Hamilton Middle School in Houston, Texas, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in September. Parents said Asher had endured constant harassment from students at his middle school.
  • Tyler Clementi, 18, a Rutgers University student, jumped to his death after his roommate secretly filmed him during a “sexual encounter” with another male in his dorm room. Unbeknownst to Tyler, the encounter was streamed live on the internet.
  • William “Billy” Lucas, 15, a student at Greensburg Community High School in Greensburg, IN, was found dead in a barn at his grandmother’s home after hanging himself. Friend and classmate Nick Hughes said that he had been tormented for years with accusations of being gay.
  • Cody Barker, 17, took his life in Shiocton, Wisconsin on Sept. 13.
  • Justin Aaberg, 15, of Anoka, MN, was found dead in his room on July 9 after he hanged himself. Friends said he had been bullied because he was gay.
  • Tyler Wilson of Findlay, Ohio, eleven year-old whose arm was broken by two boys after Tyler joined the cheering team.
  • UW-Whitewater reported a hate crime on Sept. 26. A female UW-Whitewater student wearing a shirt that read “Legalize Gay” was called a “faggot” and punched in the face by one of two unknown male assailants who then fled.

These tragic losses and have recently come to public attention, but there are daily acts of hate, bias and discrimination in lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender communities that go unnoticed or unreported. The LGBTQ Center calls upon all people to stand against these acts, both subtle and egregious.

Individuals who participate in or fail to intervene in acts of intolerance — due to perceptions of someone’s known sexual identity, gender identity or gender expression — perpetuate this violence.

It’s crucial to educate ourselves, learn intervention strategies, engage in dialogue, and commit to end this bigotry, shame, and harassment. We must let all people, especially youth, know that they can live full, productive lives and embrace and openly express their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression regardless of how they self-identify.

This statement serves as a call to action. Please share, especially with youth, the information and resources available from organizations such as The UNC-LGBTQ Center (http://lgbtq.unc.edu); the LGBT Center of Raleigh (919-821-0055, Sunday through Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.); The Trevor Project — a 24-hour, national help line for gay and questioning teens (866-4U TREVOR or thetrevorproject.org) and the GLBT National Youth Talkline (1-800-246-7743).

Utilize these resources to support yourselves and your colleagues as you engage in the work of creating more just, inclusive, welcoming and equitable campuses, communities and world.

Terri Phoenix is a guest columnist for The Daily Tar Heel. E-mail her at tphoenix@email.unc.edu

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