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Spartan Echo - "No homo" forum opens discussion on homophobic bullying, urges

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ttNo homott forum opens discussion on hornophobic bullying, urges participants to get educated on LGBT community By: JalizaBraxton Posted: 10/13/10 Finding a common understanding of the homosexual community seems more realistic to the Leaders Educating Gay and Straight Individuals, or LEGASI, an organtzation sponsored by NSU's Office of Residence Life and Housing.

With nationwide events surrounding homosexuality, many have found themselves lost or confused to what a moral or social norm is comprised of.

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"Growing up I guess you can say that I have always been different," said Antonio Williams sophomore English major and president of LEGASI who is also openly gay. "Like many others, I was teased, called names, threatened and sometimes even pushed around." According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there have been at least ten cases involving LGBT discrimination since 2005. ACLIJ's LGBT Project also vows to do what many of the members of LEGASI aim to do; fight discrimination and move public opinion through education.

In September, a string of five suicides occurred in one week as a result of bullying.One of those victims was Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers university, who jumped to his death after his roommate outed him as gay on the Intemet after he secretly streamed live video of him having sex with a man. LEGASI held its first event of the semester on Nov. 2, trtled after lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, "No homo."

a phrase deemed offensive to the

The forum was held to discuss homosexuality as a whole, and it welcomed all members of the Sparlan community. A panel of five individuals took on questions from the audience concerning homosexuality which sparked a long, drawn out debate about homosexuality in today's society.

Two of the panelists expressed their disapproval of homosexuality, saying that it was immoral and defeated the purpose of procreation, while three others supporled it; one from a biological standpoint. Vanessa Caldwell-Jenkins, Senior Staff Counselor of the university's counseling center, was also present for support and mediation of the forum. Xavier Way, a senior education major, was one member of the panel that did not agree with every aspect of homosexuality and believed that the main culprit of bullying towards homosexuals was rooted in the lack ofeducational guidance.

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Spartan Echo - "No homo" forum opens discussion on homophobic bullying, urges

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"That's never a behavior that I would condone," said Way. "I think in education there's a lot more that can be done. There's not enough ideas and initiatives in education that bring more students together."

This comes weeks after Arkansas School board member Clint McCance resigned after going on a homophobic rant on his Facebook profile, in lieu of a week span of suicides committed by victims as young as 13.

"How do we, as future leaders of this global society, stop bullying and bashing for not only homosexuals, but for all because it's actually happening?" Williams posed the question to the well-engaged audience and panel. Brittany Simmons, a junior music education major, openly gay female and panelist pro homosexuality, felt putting a stop to bullying should be instilled in children in primary school years. "I just feel like it's all about respect," said Simmons. "It goes all the way back to kindergarten. We all learned to get along as people." Some students stood up and candidly exposed how they had been treated differently by strangers and even the people closest to them in their lives because of their sexual preferences. One student shared an emotional story about being rejected from her church because of her sexual preference.

To curb bullying of any kind and provide a support system, NSU faculty asks that students report incidents to an authoritative figure, preferable university police and a member of the counseling center. In addition, the counseling center offers its "On-Call Counselor System" to students who may need assistance after office hours. "Each individual person has to take a stand," said sophomore biology pre-med student Kamaria Butler. "People are ignorant about it, they don't know the effects of it." said Butler. "You've got to stop it; you've got to quit it. Cut the ignorance and step up and teach." Gregory Dear, Jr., a criminal justice graduate student, felt that the program was just the beginning to getting people to listen to what the LGBT community has to say.

"I observed the passion that homosexuals have by defending their case," said Dear. His solution to educating society about the LGBT community? Treating homosexuality as a real-life siruation in society.

"A lot of times

because homosexuality is so taboo, they want to keep it off T.V.," Dear said. "The media's focus needs to be off shows like Jerry Springer and on programs like these in universities."

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