Gay Teen Death Sparks Reaction

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The death of Jamey Rodemeyer, 14, a gay teen from New York who investigators said took his life due to bullying, sparks reaction from local activist who said there are local teens facing the same challenges. “For me coming out in high school was not an option. I had seen the way people were treated that hadn’t necessarily come out of the closet, but were suspected of being gay or were assumed gay,” said Dustin Lee, 27, of Gibson County. “Of course names were called, constant bullying, books knocked out of people’s hands,” he adds. Drew Baker, Director of the local chapter of the Tennessee Equality Project, said the suicide rate among gay teens is four to five times the national average. “My heart breaks for this kid and I can’t imagine what he went through to lead him to the point of utter desperation,” said Baker. Pop star Lady Gaga spoke to President Barack Obama at a fundraiser, Sunday, to push for harsher penalties against all types of bullying. Baker said state legislation prevents the city from passing laws which would protect bullied youths. He believes a pending state bill named the ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill,’ will make it harder for teens to get help. “There’s nobody on campus for them to go to because everybody form the principle down to the janitor will be prohibited from speaking about the issue,” he said. Lee said having to suppress his sexuality while in high school stagnated his emotional maturity. “Be yourself. Be who you are. There are people that will bully you, but for every person that feels that way there’s going to be another person that will accept you for who you are,” said Lee. If you are a teen or parent of a teen who is experiencing bullying, the Tennessee Equality Project can help. Click on the ‘Seen on 7’ link on this website.

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