BOSTON, October 15, 2012—Last week, the day before National Coming Out Day and midway through National Bullying Prevention Month, New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes broadcast an offensive tweet about LGBT people to his 280,000 followers on Twitter. MassEquality Executive Director issued the following statement in response:
“October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which brings the opportunity to focus on the need for continued action to make all people, particularly young people, feel safer. Midway through the month, Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes took the opportunity to broadcast an offensive tweet about LGBT people to his 280,000 followers. Making matters worse, when he was confronted with the offensiveness of his action, he tried to brush it off as a joke.
“For too long anti-LGBT putdowns—whether they are made on the playground or on social media—have been simply laughed off. But bullying is not a joke. In Massachusetts, which as the first state in the nation to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples is seen as a beacon of equality for the rest of the nation, one-third of Massachusetts gay, lesbian, and bisexual students report that they’ve experienced bullying. LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and eight times more likely to when their families reject them; up to 40 percent of our unaccompanied homeless youth population identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and the vast majority of them are living alone on the streets because their families have, in fact, rejected them. Gay and bisexual men represent four out of 10 new diagnoses of HIV, and the state Department of Public Health reports that the mere fact of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Massachusetts results in higher stress and poorer health outcomes.
“Failing to take seriously offensive remarks by public figures is one of the reasons why we see statistics like those. If Brandon Spikes is serious about the fact that he was joking, then let him prove it by making an ‘It Gets Better’ video. In fact, we like to see the New England Patriots join the Boston Red Sox in making an ‘It Gets Better’ video. That would send a tremendous message to Pats fans everywhere that there is no place for bullying on the sports field or off.”