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Office of Equity and Human Rights

Realizing Equity. Enhancing the City of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-4433

Fax: 503-823-4420

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

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Response to Youth Suicides and Bullying Incident

As we approach National Coming Out Day (October 11th) members of the Portland Human Rights Commission are deeply saddened that in recent weeks, five young men have committed suicide. They ranged in age from 13 to 19 years old, each was attending school, and each of them was bullied, denigrated, teased, harassed, and/or otherwise humiliated because he was or perceived to be gay.

 

We can only imagine the despair that came to these young men from being relentlessly teased. We can only imagine the sadness and isolation that surrounded each young man because of being constantly bullied and humiliated. We can only imagine the grief that their families feel at the loss of their child.

These young men deserved better from their peers, school administrators, community, and the rest of us. The bullying of these young men violates at least two Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 3 reads:

Everyone had the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5 s reads:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The actions of classmates and in some instances, the failure of persons in positions of authority to act to protect these young peoples, are behaviors we must not allow.  We must insist upon fair treatment for all of our children regardless of their sexual orientation. We must work with our schools to foster an environment where differences are not attacked and disrespected.

We call upon Portland City officials and the teachers, principals, parents, and all other members of the Portland community to speak out against bullying in our schools, and work to make certain that every student is free from it.   We also encourage young people, who find themselves in these circumstances, to remain resilient, there is support available, and in the darkest times, you are not alone. Do not lose sight of your goals and aspiration, don’t let the actions of others, keep you from achieving your dreams.

As importantly, we ask Portland residents to respect and protect each individual’s right to be secure in their person and safe from harassment and threats regardless of their sexual orientation.  Each of us has a role to play in supporting our young people through their journey to adulthood.