Gay and lesbian issues on tap at Minn. bullying summit

Jamie Nabozny
Jamie Nabozny, seen here on the porch of his home in north Minneapolis in August 2011, will speak at an anti-bullying summit in St. Paul Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.
MPR File Photo/Tom Weber

Organizers of an anti-bullying summit in St. Paul Friday say they're glad the issue is getting wider attention, but schools still have more to do.

The Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays-hosted event at Hamline University focuses specifically on the bullying of gay and lesbian school students.

Board member Gretchen Murr said the need for more information has been evident when she speaks in schools.

"We were finding teachers begging for information," Murr said. "We decided that we were going to try to put it together."

Speakers included Jamie Nabozny, who won a landmark LGBT harassment lawsuit in the 1990s.

He said some schools and students are doing great work to raise awareness, but there are still stigmas to overcome. He cited the example that physical bullying is treated as more severe than verbal bullying.

"The words that were spoken to me and the things that were said to me will stick in my head forever," he said. "But I don't remember the physical pain I endured from the beatings, when people hit me. I don't remember that. And so it bothers me when kids, but even adults, will downplay the impact that verbal harassment has."

Nabozny said prevention efforts must include all three people involved in bullying: the bully, the victim and the bystander.

The Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center is planning an anti-bullying event in March.

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