August 28, 2015 19:21 UTC

In the News

Obama, Hillary Clinton Speak Out Against Anti-Gay Bullying

President Obama speaks in support of the It Gets Better Project
President Obama speaks in support of the It Gets Better Project

Or download MP3 (Right-click or option-click and save link)

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton each released video messages this week on the problem of bullying. Both messages centered on abusive behavior toward homosexuals.

BARACK OBAMA: "Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives.  As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart.  It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this country. We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage -- that it's some inevitable part of growing up. It's not."

One recent victim was an eighteen-year old student at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Tyler Clementi was a first-year student and a promising musician. In late September he jumped to his death from a bridge over the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York. Three days earlier, his roommate had secretly used a webcam to broadcast live images of him in a sexual encounter with another man.

A candlelight vigil in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to remember Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself
A candlelight vigil in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to remember Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself

Law enforcement officials have charged the roommate and another student with invasion of privacy.

Last month, writer Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project. The purpose is to help LGBT -- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender -- young people. President Obama recorded his message to show support for that project.

BARACK OBAMA: "I don't know what it's like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong. It’s tough. And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart -- I know can just wear on you. And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself -- for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else. But what I want to say is this. You are not alone."

Secretary Clinton released her message earlier in the week.

HILLARY CLINTON: "Like millions of Americans, I was terribly saddened to learn of the recent suicides of several teenagers across our country after being bullied because they were gay or because people thought they were gay. Children are particularly vulnerable to the hurt caused by discrimination and prejudice and we have lost many young people over the years to suicide. These most recent deaths are a reminder that all Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred."

Hillary Clinton's video message
Hillary Clinton's video message

She said opportunities will only increase:

HILLARY CLINTON: "Just think of the progress made by women just during my lifetime by women, or ethnic, racial and religious minorities over the course of our history — and by gays and lesbians, many of whom are now free to live their lives openly and proudly."

The videos come as the government and the courts try to settle the future of the military policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Under federal law, gays and lesbians can serve, but not openly. No one may ask about a person's sexual orientation. But service members can be discharged if they are found to be homosexual.

Congress and President Bill Clinton approved the law in nineteen ninety-three as a compromise. Now a federal judge in California has ruled it unconstitutional.

Last week she ordered a halt to all dismissals of gay service members. But on Wednesday an appeals court let the administration temporarily continue the policy.

President Obama says he wants to end the policy, but he wants Congress and not the courts to do it.

In July, the Defense Department e-mailed a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" opinion survey to four hundred thousand service members. Defense Secretary Robert Gates expects the results by December first.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Audio China's Slowing Economy Affects Markets Worldwide

    China’s stock market has dropped by more than 40 percent since June. Signs of a slowing economy in China have had effects on other stock markets and raised questions of whether measure to increase growth are enough. More

  • Audio As many as 50 Migrants Found Dead in a Truck in Austria

    The discovery of up to 50 dead refugees in Austria came on the same day as a European migrant crisis meeting in Vienna. Also in the news, President Barack Obama visits New Orleans ahead of the city's 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; China's stock markets recover after 5 days of losses. More

  • Audio Fighting Climate Change Important to Obama

    President Obama has called climate change the greatest threat to national security. At a clean energy meeting this week, he pushed solar power and other renewable energy sources. His political opponents say his plans will hurt the oil, gas and coal industries and the American economy. More

  • Audio Book Pages Could Provide Safe Drinking Water

    The expression "a thirst for knowledge" may soon have a new meaning for millions of people who have no way to get clean water. Researchers have developed a book with specially treated pages that can make water safe to drink. More

  • Audio Philippines Looking at 'Ecotourism Zone' in South China Sea

    The Philippines has launched a campaign to push for an "ecotourism zone" in the middle of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Under the plan, tourists could visit Philippine-controlled parts of the disputed area. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims to the area. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Millions with Mental Illness Get Little or No Treatment

    The World Health Organization reports that hundreds of millions of people worldwide have a mental disorder. However, the WHO adds that most get little or no treatment. Learn the vocabulary needed to talk about this important study. More

  • Hoarding

    Video Could Organizing Your Home Change Your Life?

    A new movement in the United States is all about clearing away unnecessary things in your life. A Japanese cleaning expert on clutter is now the hot topic on playgrounds, at work and parties. But can cleaning out clutter really help you succeed at your job or lose weight? Read on to learn more. More

  • Video More Latin for Your English!

    In part two of our series on Latin’s influence on American English, we learn more Latin words and phrases. From popular movies to rock songs, Latin is used very frequently in American English. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: We Suggest That You Learn the Subjunctive

    How can we be polite and stress urgency at the same time? The subjunctive offers speakers a polite and diplomatic way to give a command or express that something is very important. Learn how to use it in noun clauses from the Everyday Grammar experts. More

  • Video Movie Shows Rap Group 'Straight Outta Compton'

    The music genre known as gangster, or gangsta, rap was born in the poor, dangerous neighborhood of Compton, in Los Angeles, California. The violence of street life there and tense relations between the community and police influenced the sound. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs