Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brody's Notes... Another Minnesota Gay Teen Suicide: Sen. Al Franken- "LGBT Kids Really Do Need (More) Protection"

By Mark Singer (Washington DC) JAN 18 | Sheriff's office officials in Douglas County, Minnesota have confirmed that the death of an 18 year old high school senior in Alexandria, Minnesota, was a suicide. Local ABCNews affiliate station KSAX reported that Saturday evening, 18-year-old student Lance Lundsten, of Miltona, Minnesota in the Lakes District had killed himself.
The Sheriff's office would not confirm the nature of the medical emergency. According to his Facebook page, Lundsten was openly gay. On a Facebook memorial page in Lundsten's honor, friends said that Lundsten had been bullied at school for his sexual orientation. Some students who knew Lundsten believed the bullying may have led to his suicide.
In a statement, U. S. Senator Al Franken, (D-MN) said:
"My heart goes out to Lance's family, and friends and loved ones. It's a tragic event, not only for them, but for the school, and the Alexandria community and really for all of us," Franken said.
"LGBT kids really do need (more) protection," Franken said. "They're two or three times more likely than straight kids to get bullied. Nine in ten LGBT students said they've been bullied or harassed and almost two-thirds say they don't feel safe in school."
Local radio personality Thomas Lee, said that the news of Lundsten's suicide began circling on the social networking site Facebook Monday morning, after the news reports began spreading that 18-year-old Jefferson High School senior had died over the weekend. Lee also noted that he has received hundreds of e-mails, some from students at the high school, talking about the bullying problem and being fearful.
“Bullying is a huge issue, particularly with the youth in our country now,” Facilitator of the Diversity Resource Action Alliance, Shari Maloney said in an interview with KSAX. “I think because we’re in central Minnesota, and we aren't as diverse as some of the larger Metropolitan areas are, someone who is different maybe draws more attention and it’s not always positive.”
Maloney said she works everyday to make Alexandria a more accepting place for community members and visitors. She said she has seen improvement, but there is still a long way to go.
Jefferson H.S., Alexandria, Minnesota
“I think we are a welcoming community, but I think we are also a very traditional community as well,” Maloney said. “As the world changes, I’m not sure if we’re changing.”
Lunsten's classmates from Jefferson High School have started a Facebook group following his death called the Jefferson Anti-Bully Coalition.
There was no mention of his death or an announcement on the high school's webpage and school officials refused to comment.
His funeral is set for today at 7:30 p.m. at the Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria, Minnesota.
A Canadian LGBTQ equality rights activist writing under the nom de plume-gaypersonsofcolor from Montreal, Quebec, observed:
Mr. Lundsten's death is the latest in a string of reported suicides by young gay human beings in the United States, where the strong push for equal rights and mutual acceptance, it seems, is equaled only by the reinforcement of bigotry, an ongoing struggle that has the makings of a crazy civil war epic. Watching the debates on American news channels between left and right wings, Democrats and Republicans, marriage equality advocates and the National Organization for Marriage, and so on, is enough to make anyone (especially youth) wonder what good the world has to offer them. As corrosive as homophobia is to society, the battle cries too have the potential to remove hope from those bright-eyed individuals who never wanted to, never planned to be in this sort of conflict.


alyssa bell said...

lance was like a brother to me i have been looking for this articale since he died thank you and i miss you and love you lance stay strong

-alyssa bell 9th grade discovery middle school 14 years old <3