Assessing the Bullying Coverage

A tweet this morning from Queerty cemented something I’ve been wrestling with about the last two weeks of coverage regarding bullying of gay teens: it’s actually been pretty good.

It seems like LGBT stories come in cycles and we are currently in a cycle of stories about gay teens committing suicide because of bullying.  Lots of people have been asking whether there is more bullying and more suicides, a question that is as much about the media coverage of those issues as it about the actual data.

(If you are interested in some data and research, a good place to start would be a newly-released study by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education, the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, and the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.)

What’s good about the coverage is that journalists haven’t fallen into the unfortunate habit of feeling like they need to interview opposing voices.  Maybe because it’s about bullying and not just LGBT issues, the stories have been blissfully free of “crazy minister” interviews or the need to include someone from Focus on the Family or Family Research Council to provide a countering voice.

There are, for sure, voices out there who are opposed to including anti-homophobia information in anti-bullying training in schools.  But now isn’t necessarily the time for those voices to be used as a counterweight. We can all agree that suicide is bad and kids being bullied is bad and broadcasting an 18-year old kissing another boy on the Internet is bad.  That doesn’t require a dissenting voice.

UPDATE: A new post on Bullying and Religion: the Second Wave Stories

Here is some coverage that has been good and has provided especially interesting angles to approach the story:

Wall Street Journal’s Digits Blog – How Social Networking Influences Coming Out

New York magazine –Tyler Clementi’s Suicide: More Than Cyber-Bullying

National Public RadioStudent’s Suicide Highlights Bullying Over Sexuality

This story, by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, on the death of Asher Brown
Vodpod videos no longer available.

CBS Evening News – Gay Student’s Death Highlights Troubling Trend

Vodpod videos no longer available.

What’s you sense of how this story has been covered? Let us know when you see stories that deserve attention (or a little criticism).


3 Responses

  1. A point to consider with all this media coverage is the possible harmful effects the message of “bullying equals suicide” can have on vulnerable youth. If all LGBT youth hear is that if you are being bullied and suicide is an option for you, the media could be inadvertently creating a contagion phenomenon. If we keep telling LGBT youth they are more at risk for suicide we risk normalizing it.

    Please see safe reporting recommendations for media at

  2. “What’s good about the coverage is that journalists haven’t fallen into the unfortunate habit of feeling like they need to interview opposing voices.”

    Thank YOU!!! Because that’s what REAL freeedom is about.

    What cocerns me though is that the media is being too neutral in only OMITTING dissenting voices.

    They should actually be advocating the total SILENCING of people. The RE-EDUCATION of them so that they think in the correct way.

    We still have some way to go but we are getting there.

  3. […] , there has been much in the media about the bullying gay youth endure. This blog maintained by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association evaluates some of […]

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