Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 16 March 1998

EXPLORING THE PLIGHT OF GAY YOUTH

Los Angeles' BUZZ Magazine & The Orlando Sentinel
Valuable Contributions on Both Coasts

By Don Romesburg
GLAAD Publications Manager


Both the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel and Los Angeles' Buzz magazine recently featured excellent articles looking at the challenges that lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students face.

The March 5 edition of the Orlando Sentinel features a commentary by local high school teacher Judy Varblow, which begins by quoting Emily Dickinson's line, "I'm nobody, who are you?"

Varblow continues, "Last month a friend of mine, Mike McKee (a teacher), announced he was gay. He wanted to be a role model for gay students and risked losing his job." She said people responded by saying it was his business and had nothing to do with being a teacher.

"Wrong!" she retorts, "Few [lesbian and gay teenagers] feel comfortable confiding in their parents. If they are harassed at school, they have no one to tell; little support exists for them. These students live their lives in quiet desperation, lonely and isolated. This is what Mike is attempting to change. If more of us, as educators or community members, gay or straight, would take a stand, we might ease, and possibly save, the lives of these students."

The March issue of Buzz features a cover story entitled, "The Hot Issue: Teens Take On Homeroom Homophobia."

It looks at two different high school gay/straight alliances and their leaders. Garrett O'Neal is the openly gay president of the Santa Monica High School group, and Noah Strote is the openly straight president of the one at Harvard-Westlake, an exclusive private school.

The article goes far beyond statistics on gay youth suicide and gives an in-depth look at what the clubs are all about, and what life as a gay young man can mean. "[Garrett and Noah] both hang out with straight and gay friends, and both are president of new official student led [gay-straight] clubs. Essentially rap sessions about gay harassment in and out of school, politics, and life, GSA meetings attract an edgy clique of kids, the majority of whom identify as straight or bisexual, when they identify at all," author Evan Forster writes. Forster attends meetings with the young men, giving a slice of the discussion and some of the people involved. He then follows Garrett to the mall and watches him flirt with one guy of whose sexual orientation he isn't sure.

"'It gets bothersome that I can't just go through the normal process of dating. Like if a straight guy likes a girl, he can go up to her and ask her on a date, and if she's not into him, it's like, "Whatever"-and he won't get his ass kicked,'" Garrett is quoted as saying. The article looks at a host of issues, from dating to grades to where to hang out as a lesbian or gay teenager in Los Angeles.

Please thank the Orlando Sentinel and Buzz for their valuable contributions to the increasing media attention lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people are garnering.

Contact: Jane Healy, Managing Editor
Orlando Sentinel
633 N. Orange Ave.
Orlando, FL 32801-1349

Fax: 407.420.5286
E-mail: osoinsight@aol.com

Marilyn Bethany, Editor in Chief
Buzz Magazine
11845 West Olympic Blvd. #800
Los Angeles, CA 90064-5014
Fax: 310.473.2876
E-mail: scottb@buzzmag.com


Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) glaad@glaad.org

TO REPORT DEFAMATION IN THE MEDIA - Call GLAAD's Alertline at 1.800.GAY.MEDIA or go to the GLAAD Web Site at www.glaad.org and report through our Alertline Online.


1998 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission e-mail gaytoday@badpuppy.com

GayToday Image Map