Gays, transgenders seek acceptance at Yuba-Sutter anti-bullying forum
Dan Rule never had a problem accepting his adopted transgendered son.
It wasn't an issue. At least not for Rule.
"I grew up in a family with gay members and, now, a couple of transgender members," Rule explained. "It wasn't a struggle to accept (my son) for the simple fact that it saved my child's life."
Rule's son, Elias Sebastian DeLeon, 17, says he has always felt more comfortable as a male, though he was born female.
"Ever since I can remember I've just always identified as a boy," the teenager Yuba City honors student explained.
DeLeon says he feels blessed to have strong support from his family.
Such support can be rare and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth are frequently victimized by bullies in their homes, schools and communities, both men said.
Rule and DeLeon were part of panel Saturday afternoon in Marysville addressing the issue of bullying, specifically the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids in Yuba-Sutter. The five-hour event was sponsored by California Rule Legal Assistance.
Rule serves as a director for Got Bliss Inc., a nonprofit organization formed last year in Yuba-Sutter that works as a support network and educational awareness group for gender identity minorities.
A small crowd of about 30 gathered at the Arts Council building on E Street to share experiences, network and discuss ways to reach out to all people struggling in any way with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-related issues. "This is a very exciting time," said Inger Price, a Got Bliss board member. "There are more resources now in Yuba-Sutter than there every has been before."
Most in attendance agreed that while acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents has improved, a majority of people in Yuba and Sutter counties don't support or believe in gender-related issues.
Saturday's meeting was not so much about changing those beliefs as it was about finding ways to care for young people who may feel alienated in their homes and communities.
"Teen suicide rates among (LGBT) kids is very high," Rule said.
A study published last year in Pediatrics found that teenagers who self-identify as homosexual are five times more likely to attempt suicide that heterosexual teens.
Got Bliss and other local groups are hoping only to reduce those numbers.
"We're not political," Price said. "We're about support and education in a positive, accepting environment."
Rule said while many people still have issues with such groups, he believes nobody should want to see children suffer.
"We still have this desire to segregate people into categories, into groups," Rule said, "and schools especially are not addressing this issue very well, but it's just a lack of understanding and it's very detrimental to a child."
CONTACT Rob Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.