LGBTQ youth being bullied

Kevin Jennings' nationally recognized work on bullying provides a great basis for education. Bullying can be extremely harmful, especially for LGBTQ children who are more likely to get bullied than heterosexual children. Learn what you as a parent can do to help your child in this situation.
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LGBTQ youth being bullied

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The fact is LGBTQ youth are much more likely to get bullied than nongay youth, so we need to accept that as a fact. If your child has come to you and told you they're being bullied, first of all, that is an enormously good sign about the health of your relationship with your child. The vast majority of kids who are bullied never tell an adult that's happening to them. So, if your young person is comfortable enough to tell you they're being bullied, the most important thing has already been proven, which is that they trust you. And, I would urge you to do a couple of things. First of all, a kid who's being bullied often feels that somehow they deserve it. They're a bad person. They've done something to bring them up based on themselves. For some reason, they've caused this bad thing to happen to them. So, the first thing you need to do is to make sure your young person understands there's nothing wrong with them. They have done nothing wrong. They do not deserve to be treated this way and that you will be there for them no matter what, and that together you will find a solution of this problem. The second thing you need to do is to confront the school immediately. A lot of parents make the mistake of thinking this is something that can be worked out between the two families, like they can call the parents of the other kid and work things out. Study show that that never works. The fact is that this usually is because there's an environment at the school that is permitting this kind of behavior and the school needs to deal with it.

Kevin Jennings' nationally recognized work on bullying provides a great basis for education. Bullying can be extremely harmful, especially for LGBTQ children who are more likely to get bullied than heterosexual children. Learn what you as a parent can do to help your child in this situation.

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Expert Bio

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Kevin Jennings

Educational Specialist

Kevin Jennings is the Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation, a leading global foundation advancing pressing social justice and conservation issues. Specifically, Arcus works to advance LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality, as well as to conserve and protect the great apes.

Kevin has a long and distinguished career as an educator, a social justice activist, a teacher, and an author. From 2011-2012 Kevin was CEO of Be the Change, a nonprofit that creates national issue-based campaigns on pressing problems in American society. While there he helped launch Opportunity Nation, a campaign designed to increase opportunity and economic mobility in America.

From 2009-2011 Kevin served as Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education, heading the department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS). In this role, Mr. Jennings led federal efforts to promote the safety, health and well being of America’s students. Kevin led the Obama Administration’s anti-bullying initiative, which culminated in March 2011 with the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention keynoted by President Obama.

Kevin began his career as a high school history teacher and coach, first at Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I., from 1985 to 1987, and then at Concord Academy in Concord, Mass., from 1987 to 1995. At Concord, he served as the faculty advisor to the nation’s first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) leading him in 1990 found GLSEN, a national education organization bringing together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and straight teachers, parents, students, and community members who wanted to end anti-LGBT bias in our schools. Jennings left teaching in 1995 to build the all-volunteer GLSEN organization into a national force, serving as its founding Executive Director until 2008. Under his leadership, GLSEN programs such as Gay-Straight Alliance, the Day of Silence and No Name-Calling Week became commonplace in America’s schools. GLSEN’s advocacy was key in passing comprehensive safe schools laws in eleven states, increasing the number of students protected from anti-LGBT discrimination from less than 900,000 in 1993 (less than 2% of the national student body) to 14.3 million by 2008 (nearly 30%).

Kevin became the first member of his family to graduate from college when he received his B.A. magna cum laude in history from Harvard University in 1985. He is the founder of First Generation Harvard Alumni, an alumnae/i organization of Harvard graduates who were the first in their families to graduate from college who offer mentoring to current undergraduates who are the first in their families to attend college. He also holds an MA in education from Columbia University’s Teachers College, from which he received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012, and an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business. He has received the “Friend of Children” Award from the National Association of School Psychologists, the Human and Civil Rights Award of the National Education Association, the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Diversity Leadership Award of the National Association of Independent Schools. He is a Board Member of the Harvard Alumni AssociationUnion Theological Seminary, and the You Can Play Project, a groundbreaking effort to combat homophobia and transphobia in sports. He is also Board Chair for the Tectonic Theater Project, which created The Laramie Project. Kevin is a founding member of the New York City Gay Hockey Association, and plays left wing on The Boxers.

Mr. Jennings has authored six books, with his latest, Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son: A Memoir, being named a Book of Honor by the American Library Association in 2006. He also helped write and produce the documentary Out of the Past, which won the 1998 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary.

Mr. Jennings and his partner, Jeff Davis, a senior executive at Barclay’s, are celebrating 20 years together in 2014. They are the proud “parents” of a Bernese mountain dog, Ben, and also have a “granddog” in Ben’s son, Jackson.

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