Public forum held

CARRBORO, N.C. — Students and youth gathered at Open Eye Cafe, 101 S. Greensboro St., at an open mic Speak Out after the Day of Silence. It was sponsored by iNSIDEoUT.

On the previous day, countless participants across the nation refrained from speaking for a full day to raise awareness and express their solidarity with LGBT youth who remain muted and isolated. Every day, they face disproportionate rates of harassment and bullying in schools, as well as an increased tendency for self-injury, suicide and depression. The Speak Out was an opportunity for students to share their stories with an audience in public about their experiences observing the Day of Silence and being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or allied in school, more generally.

The event is a project of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN). In 2005, GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey found that more than 64 percent of LGBT students reported verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and 29 percent reported missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.

Discrimination and harassment is widely overlooked by school administrators due in part to the lack of effective bullying policies, said iNSIDEoUT representative Amy Glaser. The School Violence Prevention Act, which was passed in 2009, is supposed to help protect youth against bullying. Equality North Carolina has prepared a kit to assist systems in the implementation of the law.

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Conference tackles bullying

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State University held a statewide conference on March 29 to assist educators and students in dealing with harassment in elementary and secondary schools.

Attendees focused on finding ways to implement the state’s School Violence Prevention Act throughout an entire school. Also, intervention and parental support methodology were addressed.

WRAL reported, “Justine Hollingshead, director of N.C. State’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Center, said school administrators, teachers and counselors need to take the initiative to stop bullying.”

Worsening the issue is the “advent of online bullying.”

Morgan Hayes, a seventh grade student at North Garner Middle School, attended the event for a Girl Scout project with a friend. She is spearheading an effort to have her school become a no-bully zone.

Exec supports gay rights

RALEIGH, N.C. — Workplace Options President Alan King says that “being gay doesn’t define my ability to do my job well. I don’t wrap myself in a rainbow flag,” the News and Observer reported.

His company is the lead sponsor of OutRaleigh, which is taking place on May 14. And, that is only the tip of the iceberg. He thinks that this event is just the place to make a “visible statement in the community we live…and celebrate diversity…thus being viewed as a model in the business world.”

Workplace Options is an employee assistance program company and provides wellness programs, backup care for children and elderly parents, diversity training, financial counseling, mental-health support and more.

It employs 325 people worldwide. Most of them, 240, work in Raleigh.

They have concern over the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s efforts to restrict gay rights, like the gay marriage ban.

The News and Observer said, “A recent survey of N.C. workers by Public Policy Polling, a firm that’s owned by [Workplace Options CEO] Dean Debnam, showed that about one in four said they would be uncomfortable if a co-worker or boss was openly gay.”

“It’s valuable for this region’s gay and lesbian community to have the support of businesses and of leaders such as King.…The fact that Alan is out and rewarded and supported for being out means so much for other professionals,” Daire Roebuck, who serves on the LGBT Center board and is an attorney, concluded.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.