Though outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romey’s recent long-shot attempt to end same-sex marriage in that state has received considerable attention, his recent attacks on programs serving LGBT youth have largely flown under the radar. Two weeks ago, Romney, a potential presidential candidate, submitted his final annual budget in which he eliminated all funding for the Department of Education’s Safe Schools Program and slashed funding for a Department of Public Health Program aimed at preventing LGBT youth suicide by nearly one-third.
In 1998, a study in the journal Pediatrics examined the experience of LGBT youth in Massachusetts high schools. Among the key findings were:
…GLB youth [were] more than three times as likely to have attempted suicide in the past 12 months, almost five times as likely to have missed school because of fear about safety, more than nine times as likely to have used injectable drugs in their lifetime, and more than four times as likely to have been threatened with a weapon on school property…
The researchers concluded “that educational efforts, prevention programs, and health services must be designed to address the unique needs of GLB youth.”
Given this and other research documenting the effects of bullying on LGBT youth, Romney’s decision to cut these life-saving programs is puzzling. Does Governor Romney disagree with the substantial and respected body of research linking bullying and harassment in schools to higher suicide rates among LGBT youth? Or, does he hope that showing disdain for the struggles of LGBT youth will increase his appeal among Republican voters in 2008?