Will The Wave Of LGBT Suicides Push Republicans To Co-Sponsor Casey’s Anti-Bullying Bill?

Tanya Somanader points out that despite the growing number of LGBT suicides in recent weeks, conservative outfits are still insisting “that anti-bullying measures are nothing more than insidious tools of the ‘homosexual agenda’:

– The American Family Association of Michigan: describes anti-bullying measures as “a Trojan Horse to sneak [homosexual activists’] special rights agenda into law” and to “legitimize homosexual behavior” which is “a practice scientifically proven to result in a dramatically higher incidence of domestic violence, mental illness, illegal drug use, promiscuity, life-threatening disease, and premature death.”

– Gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer (R-MN): would not sign the anti-bullying Safe Schools For All bill because “I don’t want the government” instead of parents to be on “the front line of defense of our children.”

– Focus on the Family: insists that bullying prevention is being “hijacked by activists” who are “politicizing or sexualizing the issue,” Focus on the Family’s Candi Cushman claims that the anti-bullying bill currently before Congress “cater[s] to a narrow political agenda” that “becomes a gateway for homosexuality promotion in school.”

But if you ask students who live in states that protect them from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender expression, they’ll tell you that if anything these laws are a gateway to preventing LGBT-specific abuse and violence. A 2005 survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) for instance, concluded that “LGBT students who were covered by a comprehensive safe school policy that specifically protects sexual orientation were less likely to report being harassed at school, more likely to tell school officials when incidents of harassment occurred..and more than twice as likely to have a teacher intervene when harassment occurred versus students covered by a non-enumerated, or ‘generic,’ policy.”

A new study to be published in the November 2010 edition of Developmental Psychology, has also found a “direct link between school victimization of gender-nonconforming LGBT youth with depression and quality of life in adulthood.” According to the research, “LGBT young adults who did not socially conform to gender roles as adolescents reported higher levels of anti-LGBT victimization, with significantly higher levels of depression and decreased life satisfaction in young adulthood,” contributing to serious psychological harm.

To ameliorate these effects, Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) introduced a bill in August that would require any public schools receiving federal funding to develop race, sex, and gender-specific anti-bullying policies and teach harassment prevention strategies. It currently has 12 co-sponsors and no Republican support. But the recent spate of suicides offers the GOP an opportunity to buck their conservative base and demonstrate that they’re willing to govern on behalf of all Americans. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) recently spoke the Log Cabin Republicans in an effort to expand the GOP tent — signing on to this bill would be a sure sign that gay people are welcome in it.