Andrew Barnett of SMYAL explains why 'cyber bullying' of gay teens is different today

Posted by JD Uy
October 7, 2010 9:44 AM |

Andrew Barnett (left) of SMYAL speaking on Fox 5

''Over the past several years we've seen a huge drop in the average coming out age.  And a study that was released in 2008 actually showed that LGBT youth are, on average, coming out at age 13 now; which for many people seems almost impossibly young. However, if you look at other studies that were taken in previous years, very often, folks who may have come out later in life -- like around 12, 11, 13, at those ages, they were starting to realize that they were different and they suspected that they may be LGBT.  So, the difference now is that, it's not so much that youth are becoming aware of their feelings at a different time; it's more that they now have a language to process [those feelings]. Because of the rise in visibility of LGBT people in the mainstream media, they start to realize, 'You know, maybe I'm gay.' And they start to take the steps much sooner than they did before.

''The problem with cyber bullying is something that we at SMYAL are still trying to wrap our heads around.  Everything is changing so quickly -- the way that youth are communicating with each other.  But we know that when youth post something on another's Facebook page, that's something that all of their friends might see.  And It feels just incredibly permanent for that young person.  The other piece is: bullying through text messaging.  You know, it used to be that, if you're being bullied at school, you went home and you had a break from it.  If a bully is attacking you via text messaging, that's ongoing after school, while you're at home, where ever you are; and that feels really different for young people.''

Andrew Barnett of Washington, DC's Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League on Fox 5 Morning News. He appeared on the show to address the much publicized string of suicides that have occurred in school aged and young college student. (Fox 5 DC) (SMYAL)

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