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New Youth Suicide Study: Gay Teens at High Risk

Many Isolated & Marginalized —At Home & School

Fundamentalist Christians Step Up TV Attack Ads

Compiled By GayToday

suicide.jpg - 6.30 K Washington, D.C.--Gay and lesbian youths are at high risk for attempting suicide, according to a new study by Dr. Robert Garofalo of the Children's Hospital, Boston.

The study, published May 13 in the American Medical Association's Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, found that students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or not sure of their sexual orientation are 3.41 times more likely to report a suicide attempt.

Data for the study came from the Massachusetts 1995 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which included questions about sexual orientation.

"These statistics underscore that anti-gay prejudice is a life-threatening problem confronting this country," said David M. Smith, Communications Director of the Human Rights Campaign.

"Suicides, and violence against gay people will continue as long as extreme right wing groups continue to dehumanize gay Americans and anti-gay harassment flourishes unchecked in our nation's schools."

The study said that factors which may exacerbate this problem, are "psychological stresses such as marginalization, isolation, and rejection."

Despite the scientific evidence that stigmatization can have devastating consequences for gay youth, the extreme right continued their ongoing attacks this week by unveiling an anti-gay television ad in Washington.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Teen-Aged and Gay: The Tough Life

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Jerry Falwell Encourages Anti-Gay Ad Campaign

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The anti-gay television ad, which is airing on UPN's Washington affiliate, is an extension of last summer's $500,000 "Truth In Love" newspaper campaign.

The TV ad shows a son thanking his mother for telling him what she regards as the truth about homosexuality, and that he could change through the help of an "ex-gay" ministry.

"My son found out the truth, he could walk away from homosexuality. But he found out too late. He has AIDS," says the ad.

The Human Rights Campaign countered the right-wing ad by airing a new ad on UPN's Washington affiliate.

The ad aired yesterday during a 7:30 p.m. re-run of Frasier. It will air again on Friday, 7 p.m. during Home Improvement and on Sunday during the movie Star Wars, which starts at 8 p.m.

The 45-second ad titled "Baby" urges parents to teach their kids tolerance and to not discriminate. Produced by TBWA/Chiat/Day, the ad features an infant while a narrator asks who will teach the baby about life's important joys and its lessons.

"Behold wonder. Who will teach him to tie his shoes? To ride a bicycle? To find faces in the clouds? Who will teach him to love and respect people for who they are...unless they're gay? Who will teach him that? Will you?"

"These suicide statistics show that it is imperative to reach gay and lesbian youth with positive images to counter the barrage of anti-gay material put forth by the far right," said Smith.

"We hope our ad and other similar efforts contribute toward creating a society where the next generation of gay and lesbian youth can live relatively free of the indignities and violence that many of today's youth face."

The ad ends with the tag line, "choose tolerance," and a graphic which reads, "In memory of Matthew Shepard, 1976-1998."
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