I’ve been horrified to hear about the recent rash of suicides of LGBT and other marginalized youth who have been bullied and made to feel worthless. How did we come to such a place where children feel that they have no escape from bullying but to kill themselves? While we can work on changing the minds of bullies and training educators, parents, and community members to stop bullying, I also think that we need to focus on the individuals who are being bullied. How can we better equip these young people to feel confident in who they are? Bullying will happen - whether it is about your sexual orientation, where your parents came from, your accent, your clothing, or the gestures you use, you may be bullied. But, we need to work to create communities where these young people feel supported in getting through it. No one should feel so alone and helpless that they jump off a bridge or hang themselves.
For a while, Keshet has been working to make schools, temples, summer camps, and other Jewish spaces safer for all people - including LGBT youth. Their programming has focused on training teachers and developing curriculum and school policies that fit within Jewish values promoting safe, supportive communities.
To this end, Keshet has started a campaign called “Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives.” In conjunction with more than 90 initial cosponors from across the Jewish community, this campaign seeks to educate and empower Jews to make the world safer for youth.
You can read more about the pledge and sign on here: http://thequeertimes.com/2010/10/jewish-community-responds-epidemic-glbt-teen-suicide/
On Monday, which is National Coming Out Day, Keshet will release the names of those who signed on. The goal is to reach 18,000 people. Be part of this effort. Spread the world. Make a difference. Do not stand idly by.
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