September 02, 2014 15:55 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

  • Employee seen behind glass door of Alibaba's company headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, April 23, 2014.

    Audio Alibaba Seeks to Raise Billions in IPO

    The Chinese online company could raise $20 billion by selling stock to the public in the U.S. The company holds an 80 percent share of China’s online market. More

  • Ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar wave as they are transported by a wooden boat to a temporary shelter in Krueng Raya in Aceh Besar, Indonesia, April 8, 2013.

    Audio UN: Boat People Fleeing Myanmar, Bangladesh

    The United Nations says there has been a sudden increase in people fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat. Activists fear the number will continue to rise as refugees leave unclean camps and violence in Myanmar. They say that is especially true of ethnic Rohingya. More

  • Morgan County dispatcher Larry Holmes talks with a woman reporting a domestic disturbance as deputies respond to her location Friday, April 28, 2007, in Versailles, Mo. Because the 911 call came in on a landline, the address of the disturbance was immedia

    Audio It's an Emergency in Any Language

    In most countries, people can make a telephone call to ask for medical or police help using just three numbers. In the European Union, the number is 1-1-2. Some Asian countries use 9-9-9. In North America, the number is 9-1-1. More

  • A UNICEF worker shares information on Ebola and best practices to help prevent its spread with residents of the Matam neighborhood of Conakry, Guinea in this handout photo courtesy of UNICEF taken Aug. 20, 2014.

    Audio Conflicts, Ebola Put More Demands on UNICEF

    UNICEF says August has been its busiest month for emergency airlifts in the past 10 years. Some of the supplies going to Syria and Iraq are designed to help children deal with the effects of conflict. Some have gone to Liberia for use against the disease Ebola. More

  • FILE - A Vietnamese boy looks at dairy products at a showroom of the Vietnam Dairy Products Co (Vinamilk) in Hanoi.

    Audio Vietnam, We Have a Nutrition Problem

    Vietnam has a nutrition problem: too many of its children are underweight. Yet more and more Vietnamese boys and girls are becoming overweight. The two conditions may appear to be separate, but they are linked. They are both the result of poor diets. More

Featured Stories

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs