5 LGBT things you need to know today, Sept. 17

1. Two Russian TV presenters have admitted to pranking Elton John by posing as Vladimir Putin on that phone call, inviting the singer to a Moscow Pride rally. 2. Speaking of pranks and Putin, a ...
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Ga. school drops efforts to recoup legal costs from ‘Bully’ parents

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Murray County's school district is dropping its legal effort to recoup some $30,000 in court costs from parents who sued the school after their son committed suicide, according to the Fulton County Daily Report.

The parents, Tina and David Long, unsuccessfully sued the school district, alleging the district was negligent in protecting their 17-year old son, Tyler, from consistent bullying by classmates and that the bullying led him to hang himself in 2009.

The Longs, however, had their lawsuit dismissed and recently the school district, located in Chatsworth, Ga., sought legal recourse to get back money spent defending the case in court.

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Ga. school sues parents of boy featured in ‘Bully’ documentary for $9K in court costs



The parents of Tyler Long, one of five young people featured in the critically acclaimed 2012 documentary "Bully," are being sued by the Murray County school district to recoup some $9,000 in court costs after the Longs' lawsuit against the school system was dismissed, according to a story in the Fulton Daily Report.

Murray County is in north Georgia, near Dalton.

Tina and David Long sued the Murray County Board of Education after their son, Tyler, 17, a student at Murray County High School in Chatsworth, Ga., committed suicide by hanging in 2009. The parents alleged in the lawsuit that school officials did nothing to stop the constant bullying their son endured, as portrayed in the film.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court on Jan. 29, 2010, and notes that Tyler had Asperger's Disorder. The lawsuit was dismissed last year by Judge Harold Murphy and appealed. The appeal was upheld in June.

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Two hearings on pro-gay bills cited as progress for conservative Gold Dome

Karla Drenner

As the Georgia General Assembly adjourned its annual 40-day session, the only specifically LGBT bill to pass this year was a resolution honoring the Atlanta Freedom Bands — and even that caused controversy.

Introduced by state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), one of three openly gay members of the General Assembly, the resolution was similar to those routinely passed every day to honor an organization or individual, with one exception.

“This bill had LGBT in there … I thought it was really innocuous,” Drenner said. “I worked on it to make it palatable for everybody and I removed everything that could be deemed to be inflammatory except LGBT.”

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Survey finds rampant homophobia in Ga. schools

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network released a "snapshot" today of what life is like for LGBT students in Georgia schools, and it's not a pretty picture.

Some 92 percent of Georgia middle and high school students surveyed reported "regularly" hearing homophobic slurs like "fag," while more than 40 percent said they had been physically harassed and more than 20 percent had been physically assaulted based on sexual orientation.

“While we have seen some progress nationally in the 14 years since we started our National School Climate Survey, much work remains to ensure that all Georgia schools are safe and affirming environments for LGBT students,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN executive director, in a press release. “We look forward to working with our Georgia partners to ensure that every LGBT student has equal access to a quality education.” 

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[Video] Anti-bully bill needs revision but finds support in Ga. House education subcommittee

Keisha Waites

Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) fielded questions on her anti-bully legislation, HB 429, today before a Georgia General Assembly education subcommittee.

As written, HB 429 would expand the state's anti-bullying laws and require schools to issue annual reports on instances of bullying where a student is disciplined. Waites is one of three openly gay members of the Georgia General Assembly.

Committee members, including Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth), questioned the need for additional punishments against students who bully, but seemed favorable to the idea of requiring schools to submit annual reports on instances of bullying.

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Pro-gay rugby star Ben Cohen to attend ATL screening of ‘Legalize Gay’ documentary

Ben Cohen, a U.K. rugby star athlete and founder of the Atlanta-based to combat bullying and homophobia in sports, will be in Atlanta June 11 for a screening of “Legalize Gay” as part of Atlanta Pride’s Stonewall month of events.

The screening is a collaboration of the StandUp Foundation, Atlanta Pride Committee and Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBT film fest where “Legalize Gay” had its world premiere last year. It is also a fundraiser for all three groups, with tickets priced at $15.

A Q&A with Cohen will take place after the movie screening, which is set for 7:30 p.m. at Midtown Art Cinema.

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‘Leave It on the Floor,’ ‘Bully’ coming to ATL

'Leave It on the Floor'

Despite the recent focus on bullying in schools, many LGBT kids face their worst bullying at home. Take your pick from new films about these two kinds of bullying – or see both.

Old school meets new in “Leave It on the Floor,” a refreshing musical set in the ball scene immortalized by Jennie Livingston in “Paris Is Burning,” or at least its West Coast equivalent.

It begins when the mother of the teenaged protagonist, Brad (Ephraim Sykes), finds out he’s gay and throws him out of the house. (It’s OK. He steals her car.) Brad lands on his feet and discovers another kind of house in the ball scene, where his guide is Princess Eminence (Phillip Evelyn) of the House of Eminence.

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Fulton County Public Schools responds to Alpharetta student’s lawsuit

Alpharetta High School

Reuben Lack made national headlines last week when news broke that he was suing his school, Alpharetta High School, over his forced removal as the school's student body president. Lack alleged the change came after he introduced a resolution designed to make the school's prom more gay-inclusive.

Samantha Evans, executive director of communications for Fulton County Public Schools, disputed Lack’s claims in an interview today.

“The bottom line is that this allegation that the student is making is not true. This is not a district that would support any type of prejudice or bias,” Evans said today by phone.