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