Caleb Laieski has taken another major step to help raise awareness about bullying and diversitysubjects he knows about all too well.
Laieski, 17, is now the youngest advocate on loan in the Phoenix mayor's office, it was announced earlier this year.
Laieski, as a youth and diversity liaison, will work to raise awareness about bullying and diversity and serve as a point of contact for youth issues.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to work for one of the largest cities in our nation, and I look forward to continue making Phoenix a safer place for our entire community," he said. "Being a youth myself, I feel that this opportunity will allow me to bring a young person's perspective to the administration.
"It is quite refreshing to see our city leading on LGBT issues."
Laieski, a former high school student, endured anti-gay bullying on a daily basis, which included being followed home from school by other students and threatened for being gay. Consequently, Laieski said he had no other choice but to leave his school and pursue his GED. Laieski has worked for the past five years to fight bullying in schools and decrease the suicide rate among teens.
He founded the organization Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination (GLUAD). He also successfully petitioned his former high school district to add sexual orientation to their list of protections, and has testified for the Arizona Safe Schools Act and SB 1462, an anti-bullying bill.
In addition, Laieski met President Obama and Vice President Biden to ask each to appoint an adviser on LGBT youth issues.
Also, the teen was named Echo magazine's Man of the Year in 2011.
"As an LGBT teen myself, I see the issue of bullying as the biggest issue," that LGBT teens now face, he said. "We've got to put an end to bullying by educating students and their parents. We have the resources to talk to kids, bullies and those who are bullied, and we've got to get the message out to stop this epidemic."
Laieski was recommended by the Phoenix organization One n Ten, a non-profit dedicated to serving and assisting LGBT youth. The organization suggested Laieski to Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and his wife, Nicole France Stanton, who is working on anti-bullying efforts. One n Ten is providing a small stipend for Laieski to work five hours per week in Stanton's office, according to a statement. There is no cost to the Mayor's office or the city for Laieski's work.
"I'm excited to have someone as talented as Caleb working in my office because I know he truly cares about our community, our city and our youth," Stanton said in a statement. "I want Phoenix youth to have a voice in my office. I also want our students to be able to concentrate on their education for future success, not be bullied. All our kids deserve to live their lives, no matter who they are, because diversity is a strength in Phoenix."
Laieski still lives in Phoenix and had "no comment" when asked if he is single or dating.
"During my time in this office, I will strive to see the dropout rate lower, intervention by school administrations steadily increase and the suicide rate rapidly decline," Laieski said. "We are continuing to discuss goals and potential projects, as this position was just launched.
"I never thought I would ever be afforded this amazing opportunity, and I'm just excited that I'm able to make a difference in our city and our communities. It's really a dream come true."
Laieski plans to obtain a degree in political science.
Also see earlier WindyCityTimes.com coverage:
Gay teen helps lead Phoenix's anti-bullying initiative 2012-09-19
Top comics at fundraiser; Rick Perry's gay jokes 2012-03-28
Bullied Arizona youth speaks with Obama on White House gay youth advisor 2011-08-16
Bullied teen recognized in Secretary Sebelius's speech 2011-06-22
Different ages but a common goal: Fighting discrimination 2011-03-23
Teen reflects on bullying confab 2011-03-16
IT GETS BETTER: Caleb's Story 2010-10-13
Letters: Urgent 2010-09-15
Bullied Ariz. teen takes action 2010-07-07