While our country has made great strides toward LGBTQ+ equality—due to brave and decades-long efforts—we still have a long way to go. Sadly, LGBTQ+ young people continue to face bullying and abuse, and some are rejected by their families. In a CDC survey of students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, more than a third reported being bullied at school, and they were twice as likely as their classmates to avoid going to school from fear of violence. Most alarming, nearly a third said they had attempted suicide in the past year.
To underscore our support for LGBTQ+ youth, CommonSpirit Health has signed a public statement against bullying developed by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, founded by Tyler’s parents to honor their son, who ended his life after cyberbullying. Along with more than a dozen Catholic bishops, nearly two hundred Catholic orders, parishes, schools, leaders, and many other individuals and institutions, we proudly declare to “our LGBT friends, especially young people,” that “we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you.”
We also support other initiatives on behalf of LGBTQ+ young people, including the Million Upstander Movement, spearheaded by the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Upstanders are people who speak up and intervene when they witness bullying behavior, rather than standing by and watching. They make a difference: according to the Foundation, bullying stops more than half the time when bystanders intervene. You can be an ally to LGBTQ+ young people in your community by exploring the Foundation’s online resources, taking the Upstander pledge yourself, and encouraging your family to do the same.
At CommonSpirit, we use the word humankindness to describe the meaningful spiritual interactions that arise when we support other people, both in our care settings and other parts of our lives. The word crystallizes the commitment of the Catholic sisters who founded many of our hospitals, devoting their lives to serving vulnerable people scorned by society. Our support for the Tyler Clementi Foundation anti-bullying initiatives is an extension of our Catholic values and shared belief in the inherent dignity of all human beings. Our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers deserve our respect, care, understanding, and support.