‘LGBT Youth’ Co-author Sean Cahill Talks Bullying with Rainbow Radio

by Shaun Manning on November 14, 2012

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Sean Cahill, co-author with Jason Cianciotto of LGBT Youth in America’s Schools, was recently featured on a Rainbow Radio segment discussing the research that went into his book and the current pressing concerns about bullying in schools. Cahill, who is Director of Health Policy Research at the Fenway Institute in Boston and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Administration at New York University, is also the author of a previous book with the University of Michigan Press, Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families.

Cahill said the ideas for LGBT Youth first started coming together in 1993, when he was involved with Massachusetts’ Student Non-Discrimination Act, which specifically included protections based on sexual orientation. About ten years later, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Cahill and Cianciotto created a report that would eventually be the foundation for their book with the Press.

“We were trying to figure out, what are some gaps in our knowledge about this population and about policy interventions and school-based programs that can support youth and reduce bullying and social isolation that can result from bullying,” Cahill told Rainbow Radio. “The general frame that we take is, society has changed a lot. Young people are coming out at younger ages than they were in, say, the 1970s and ‘80s. Back then, the average age for coming out was in the early twenties; now the average age for coming out among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth is about 15. There’s a lot more culturally visible LGBT people.” Technological changes, notably social media, have also provided opportunities to “break down the isolation” young people may have felt when they didn’t know any other gay people, “but social media can also offer new venues for bullying,” Cahill said.

“School administrators have not kept up with these changes, and that can leave young people vulnerable and exposed.”

Cahill noted that existing research is not easily accessible by parents, educators, etc. because it is often published in obscure journals using impenetrable language. “We try to take that academic research and describe it in a more accessible way, then link that to policy interventions that we could support that would reduce bullying and reduce some of the disparities we’re seeing in this population.”

Download the Rainbow Radio interview at Soundcloud, and be sure to read the important and well-reviewed LGBT Youth in America’s Schools.

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