As you know, November 3rd was a big day here in Maine. With a slim majority, Mainers voted to repeal the law that granted the right to same-sex couples to marry. One of our first thoughts here at Hardy Girls was how this news, and Campaign messages on both sides, have impacted Maine youth and their sense of community and safety. I think we can all agree that the security, support, and wellbeing of our youth are core concerns. For that reason, we are including a few resources to support your new, ongoing, and renewed work to protect and support all youth.
As we learned from the Ugly Ducklings National Campaign to Reduce Bullying and Harassment of LGBTQ Youth, the importance of safe, supportive communities for all youth cannot be understated. According to the 2007 GLSEN National School Climate Survey:
-86.2% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1% reported being physically harassed and 22.1% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
-73.6% heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school.
-More than half (60.8%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (38.4%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
- 31.7% of LGBT students missed a class and 32.7% missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe, compared to only 5.5% and 4.5%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.
The statistics are staggering but they highlight the need for all of us to continue to fight for environments where all youth can thrive: in families, schools, and communities free of bias-based harassment and violence.
Whether or not the state recognizes same-sex marriages does not diminish the impact that this election has on Maine families, and in particular, children. We encourage you to please reach out to the young people in your life and encourage conversation about how we can all work to create an ideal environment where all youth can grow up free of harassment. Now, more than ever, it's important for young people to know where they can turn to for support, information, and allies.
For all our friends and allies, we recommend the following resources for reducing bullying, harassment, and violence.