Wednesday, October 17, 2012

LGBT History Month: Billy Lucas

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Billy Lucas was born and raised in Florida, where he was a talented equestrian with many friends.  His family moved to Indiana when he was in the fourth grade, and he started to be teased.  He didn't play sports; his skin was darker (he was part Indian, part Asian); he had a learning disability; and his classmates thought he was gay.  He would come home with bruises and stories of being kicked and hit, and each year his mother would go and talk to the schools, but the bullying didn't stop.

After 5 years, he had had enough.  On Sept. 9, 2010, Lucas hung himself in his grandmother's barn.  Just days before he did so, he told his mother, "Mom, you don’t know what it’s like to walk down the halls of school and be afraid of who’s going to hit you, who’s going to kick you.”  Lucas' suicide was the first to be widely reported and prompted the start of the "It Gets Better" campaign.  Dan Savage, co-founder (with his husband, Terry Miller) of the project, wrote, ""I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better."

Within months the "It Gets Better Project" had inspired more than 10,000 YouTube videos and had over 30 million views.  Anti-bullying campaigns have been started in schools across the nation, there has been a National Summit on Bullying, and the White House held the first conference on bullying prevention.  Lucas' family has filed a wrongful death suit against the school and four of its employees, claiming they not only knew about the bullying and did nothing to prevent it, but on occasion were part of it.


Also this month:

~ October is also National Bullying Prevention Month.

~ October 10th was Unity Day; wear orange to show your support and remind others about the importance of bullying prevention.

~ October 11th was National Coming Out Day when we celebrate coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or as an ally. See the Human Rights Campaign website for resources on coming out.

~ October 19th is Spirit Day; wear purple on this day to support LGBT youth & stand up against bullying.

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