Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

“Bullycide” Claims Life of Gay Minnesota Teen

Alexandria, Minnesota – An 18-year-old openly gay teen was harassed to death on Saturday in Alexandria, a small, Central Minnesota town. Lance Lundsten, a senior at Alexandria Jefferson High School, took his life after relentless bullying because of his sexual orientation, according to reports posted by the local ABC affiliate, KSAX News.  At approximately 10 p.m., Douglas County Sheriff’s officers responded to an emergency call from the Lundsten home in Miltona where they found the gay teen near death.  Lundsten was transported to Douglas County Hospital, where he died. Shari Maloney, Facilitator of the Diversity Resource Action Alliance, told KSAX, “Bullying is a huge issue, particularly with the youth in our country now. I think because we’re in central Minnesota, and we aren’t as diverse as some of the larger Metropolitan areas are, someone who is different maybe draws more attention and it’s not always positive.” Maloney went on to say that attitudes toward LGBTQ youth are not keeping pace with the times in Alexandria.“I think we are a welcoming community, but I think we are also a very traditional community as well,” Maloney said. “As the world changes, I’m not sure if we’re changing.” Friends created a memorial Facebook page in Lundsten’s honor, and indicate that bullies dogged their friend because of his sexual orientation. WDIO reports that fellow students believe the anti-gay harassment led to Lundsten’s suicide. Jefferson Anti-Bullying Coalition created a Facebook group over the weekend where Lunsten’s death by bullycide is a major topic of concern. The group administrator posted this chilling statement of student anger and despair concerning the Jefferson High School officials: “The school’s staff isn’t protecting us, it’s up to the students to help each other.”  Sexual orientation is left unmentioned in the Jefferson High School handbook on harassment policies. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) spoke out against bullycide in Miltona on Monday at a rally for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He called on the nation for more understanding and protection for LGBTQ students, according to KSAX:  “My heart goes out to Lance’s family, and friends and loved ones. It’s a tragic event, not only for them, but for the school, and the Alexandria community and really for all of us.” Franken continued,”LGBT kids really do need (more) protection. They’re two or three times more likely than straight kids to get bullied. Nine in ten LGBT students said they’ve been bullied or harassed and almost two-thirds say they don’t feel safe in school.” A service of remembrance for Lundsten is planned in Alexandria for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.  As a post on the Jefferson Anti-Bullying Coalition Facebook group says, “If this can happen in our small town of Alexandria, MN, it truly proves that this can happen anywhere. Stop another senseless death.” Any teen contemplating ending life because of harassment should contact the Trevor Lifeline at 866 4-U-TREVOR [866 488 7386].

January 18, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, Condolences, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Minnesota, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Student Non-Discrimination Act, suicide, Trevor Project | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

   

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