Community panel urges youth, parents to address bullying issues

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More than 100 people gathered in Ogden for a community gathering after the suicide of a young gay man for a candlelight vigil and to discuss the harms of bullying. Ogden OUTreach, a queer resource center, hosted the event with speakers from around the Wasatch Front.

Kendall Wilcox, a former Brigham Young University professor and the producer of a recent ‘It Gets Better’ video by gay Mormons, told the crowd about his conversations with youth and adults who struggle to earn their family’s support.

Bonnie Flint, a teacher in Davis County, said her district received an email from a gay student who said he was being bullied and called names in the locker room.

“I don’t think this should happen to anyone’s kids,” said Flint, a mother herself. “There are a lot of us who care, and we would do anything to help you.”

Jim Rollins, a straight father and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said that regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, everyone is loved.

“I, in high school, I’m definitely guilty of using derogatory terms,” said one man. “I wouldn’t be caught dead doing that now. It’s because I love you, and it’s because I care.”

After the speakers, hundreds of candles were lit and religious leaders offered prayers for love, peace, healing and change. As the event concluded, over 250 candles were aflame, filling the amphitheater with light.

“This is only the beginning. The community response has been overwhelming that we must protect our children from bullying and homophobia. We must continue to press for the changes needed to ensure safety so that every child can grow to adulthood. The community demands no less and we will continue to hold forums, panels and rallies to organize this energy for positive change,” said Marian Edmonds, OUTreach executive director.

For more information, contact OUTreach at 801-686-4528, [email protected]

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