Na­tional sur­vey: Ge­or­gia schools ‘not safe’ for most LGBT stu­dents

GA Voice - - Newsbriefs -

Ed­die Long, the Litho­nia, Ge­or­gia, anti-LGBT pas­tor of New Birth Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church who made head­lines in 2010 af­ter sex­ual con­tact al­le­ga­tions, died yes­ter­day.

The church re­leased a state­ment Jan. 15 say­ing Long fought “a gal­lant pri­vate fight with an ag­gres­sive form of can­cer.” Ac­cord­ing to WSB, a 2016 video of an “ex­tremely thin” Long sparked spec­u­la­tion about his health, and the pas­tor missed sev­eral ser­vices re­cently.

Spencer LeGrande, one of five for­mer mem­bers of Long’s con­gre­ga­tion who sued him for sex­ual co­er­cion, told the AJC they did not plan to com­ment.

“As much as we’d like to make a state­ment about the pass­ing of Bishop Ed­die Long, we’ve all de­cided to re­main silent, for now,” a joint state­ment is­sued by LeGran- de, Mau­rice Robin­son, An­thony Flagg and Ja­mal Par­ris said. “Our per­spec­tives will be ad­dressed in our book, ‘Four­saken,’ which we hope to re­lease soon.”

The four ac­cusers, along with Centino Kemp, reached a set­tle­ment with Long in May 2011 that in­cluded a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment, but some con­tin­ued to speak out about the case. Kemp’s book, “The First Lady,” was pub­lished in 2011.

The men ac­cused Long of us­ing money, ex­trav­a­gant gifts of jew­elry and trips to co­erce them into sex­ual re­la­tion­ships af­ter they reached 16, the le­gal age of con­sent in Ge­or­gia. The ac­cu­sa­tions were shock­ing to many be­cause of Long’s anti-LGBT views, in­clud­ing a 2004 protest march in At­lanta. Gospel singer Kim Bur­rell, her­self re­cently kicked off the “Ellen” show sched­ule due to anti-LGBT re­marks, called out Long in the very same ser­mon be­cause of his ru­mored ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

She called Long “an em­bar­rass­ment to the Church.”

Me­mo­rial ser­vices for Long will be held at 11 a.m. on Jan. 25.

“Find­ings from the GLSEN 2015 Na­tional School Cli­mate Sur­vey demon­strate that Ge­or­gia schools were not safe for most les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der and queer sec­ondary school stu­dents,” ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased Jan. 11 by na­tional ed­u­ca­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion GLSEN.

The snap­shot for Peach State schools con- tra­dicts na­tional trends shown in the sur­vey. Though ha­rass­ment of LGBT stu­dents is on the de­cline na­tion­ally, and in­clu­sive cli­mates on the rise, most Ge­or­gia stu­dents re­ported some kind of ver­bal ha­rass­ment re­lated to their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der ex­pres­sion or gen­der. Some of th­ese stu­dents even ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal as­sault based on th­ese char­ac­ter­is­tics, data shows.

Al­most 100 per­cent of Ge­or­gia stu­dents sur­veyed re­ported hear­ing the word “gay” used in a neg­a­tive way, and 87 per­cent heard ho­mo­pho­bic re­marks or slurs, such as the words “dyke” or “fag.” Seventy-two per­cent re­ported neg­a­tive re­marks about trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als.

Poli­cies also cause con­cern, GLSEN finds. Only 3 per­cent of stu­dents sur­veyed said there was a LGBT anti-bul­ly­ing pol­icy in their school.

Twenty-four per­cent were pre­vented from bring­ing a same-gen­der date to a school dance, 22 per­cent couldn’t use a bath­room or locker room that aligned with their gen­der and 20 per­cent were pre­vented from form­ing a Gay-Straight Al­liance.

The data shows some Ge­or­gia schools ei­ther dis­cour­age or pre­vent LGBT stu­dents from play­ing school sports, wear­ing LGBT-sup­port­ive cloth­ing and dis­cussing LGBT is­sues in class as­sign­ments.

GLSEN rec­om­mends Ge­or­gia schools es­tab­lish anti-bul­ly­ing poli­cies and en­sure per­son­nel are aware of how to re­spect­fully treat LGBT stu­dents. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also rec­om­mends in­clud­ing LGBT-in­clu­sive clubs and re­sources to change the ex­ist­ing cli­mate in many Peach State schools.

Bishop Ed­die Long

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