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  TODAY'S BUZZ

Bullied Arizona youth speaks with Obama on White House gay youth advisor
From a news release
2011-08-16

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Washington, DC - Caleb Laieski, a 16 year old bullied youth from Arizona, was invited to the White House to share his experience as a bullied teen. Laieski was one of very few youth that were chosen to meet with President Obama for a photo opportunity. While meeting with the President, Laieski proposed that the administration appoint an LGBT youth advisor to the President; which would serve as a liaison between the Obama Administration and our nation's LGBT youth population to specifically address anti-LGBT bullying and other major issues that LGBT youth face and seek appropriate and immediate solutions.

Laieski, instead of accepting bullying as a rite of passage for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) teens took off for Washington, DC where he used his personal experience to lobby Washington lawmakers on the Student Non-Discrimination Act. After meeting with almost 200 different legislators and various administrative offices in just 22 days, Laieski worked on Capitol Hill to promote a safe schools bill; The Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 998 — S. 999).

With his personal experience on the bullying he faced, he was invited to also speak with the Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, to discuss the affect that bullying has on today's lesbian and gay youth and the dire situation bullying has on at-risk youth. The story stuck with Secretary Sebelius - a few days later, Laieski was included in the Secretary's speech at the first-ever Federal LGBT Youth Summit that was held by the Department of Education.

Laieski, who has been a victim of bullying on a daily basis in his public school, included being followed home by other students who were threatening him, which led him to leave regular classes and pursue his GED instead of a high school diploma.

Bullying has taken many at-risk LGBT youth and a recent study shows, that LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times, as likely to have attempted suicide than LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. In a tragic event that struck too close to home, Laieski lost a close friend his age to suicide last year. This friend faced similar circumstances to Laieski's experience with bullying, and since this experience, he has had several other friends with whom Laieski has a close relationship, attempt suicide due to the same systematic and sustained harassment in public schools.

Instead of choosing suicide to deal with the experience of bullying, Laieski has begun channeling his inner pain into a positive experience by becoming a strong personal advocate for bullied LGBT Youth.


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