Group asks for community to come together against anti-gay bully - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Group asks for community to come together against anti-gay bullying

Donald Taylor Donald Taylor
Raquelle Bradley Raquelle Bradley
Quinn Hillerich Quinn Hillerich
Jordan Walz Jordan Walz
Brooke Willman Brooke Willman

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Louisville Youth Group held a forum Oct. 15 on anti-gay bullying and suicide prevention. Donald Taylor, executive director of the Louisville Youth Group, said about 40 agencies were represented at the forum which called upon the community to rally and stand-up against anti-gay bullying.

Taylor said he wants Louisville to make a bold statement.

"That anti-gay bullying is not okay here," he said.

Taylor believes Louisville has been a progressive community. He said the organization decided to hold the forum -not because there has been a spike locally or nationally on bullying, but because of the media coverage on the topic.

Recently, Tyler Clementi, 18-year-old Rutgers freshman, took his life after his roommate and another student reportedly videotaped Clementi in his room with another man and broadcast it online.

According to spokesperson Lauren Roberts, the Jefferson County School system has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying of any kind. Roberts said the school system has educational programs to deal with these issues and she wants kids to feel safe.

The Louisville Youth Group rally wanted to shed light on the dangers of bullying. The organization wanted to ignite conversations among the community.

"I just felt like there wasn't a place for me," said 20-year-old Raquelle Bradley.

Bradley said she was not bullied at school, but said instead she struggled for acceptance from family and her church.

"The hardest is when adults tell you that what you're doing is wrong and who you are is not okay," said Bradley.

Bradley said she attempted suicide, overdosing on medication and cutting at a young age. But she said her life changed when she found support from an organization like Louisville Youth Group.

"There's other people out there who need help and that they're scared like I was," a tearful Bradley said, referencing 13-year-old Seth Walsh, a central California teenager who hanged himself reportedly after classmates teased him about being gay.

"Seth, we can't go back and get him, but we can make sure that doesn't happen here," Bradley said.

Organizers indicate the purpose of the forum was to let kids know they have a place and people to turn to. Taylor said the forum was also to figure out, "what are we doing right so young people aren't killing themselves and what do we need to improve and do differently".

"It just got to the point where I got tired of hiding who I was," 16-year-old Quinn Hillerich said.

Hillerich attends Manual High School and said his school is "pretty accepting."

"I haven't experienced bullying. I've experience teasing, but you know that happens everywhere," Hillerich said.

Taylor said he hopes they can reach out to the people who did not attend the meeting held at Metro United Way on Broadway at Preston.

We spoke to parents and students who did not attend the meeting, to get their take on the issue.

"No. I haven't seen any -at least not at Manual," Jordan Wolz said.

"It doesn't matter if you're a football player or computer geek or if you're gay. They encourage people to be independent there," Brooke Willman said.

Parents could take a word of advice from Willman about talking with their kids regarding any issue happening at school.

"My doors are open 24-7. If any of 'em got a problem with anything, you know, I would welcome them in," she said.

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