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UPDATE: the DN posted a correction this morning, long after I'd gone to bed: Shirvell has 'taken leave' rather than faced suspension. Here's hoping it will soon be followed by a 'voluntary' resignation.

On the heels of widespread outrage over his campaign to ruin the life of a University of Michigan student, the state's deputy attorney general has been suspended.  A.G. and failed gubernatorial candidate Mike Cox had been dismissing calls to fire Andrew Shirvell, citing first amendment protections. The Detroit News is now reporting:

Cox said he hadn't earlier read all of Shirvell's blog, "Chris Armstrong Watch," that dogs Armstrong, the 21-year-old, openly gay president of U-M's student government and accuses him of "anti-Christian behavior," "mocking God," promoting homosexuality and trying "to recruit your sons and daughters" into the gay lifestyle.

"I'm at fault here," Cox said. "I've been saying for weeks that (Shirvell's) been acting like a bully, that his behavior is immature, but it's after-hours and protected by the First Amendment."

If you haven't watched the Anderson Cooper interview with Shirvell, you really should.  Sometimes homophobia is the result of ignorance, a lack of knowledge about and exposure to people who are 'different': this, however, is what pathological hate looks like.

For nearly six months, Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan, has waged an internet campaign against college student Chris Armstrong, the openly gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. ...

"Welcome to 'Chris Armstrong Watch,'" Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. "This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong -- a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR -- as the new head of student government."

Chris Armstrong Watch is now blocked from public access, but nothing is ever deleted from the internet.  If you can stomach it, it's worth skimming: "pathological" doesn't begin to cover it.

It's also difficult to read in light of the last couple weeks' worth of LGBT-related suicides.  Among just the ones we know:

Keep in mind these are all recent, and represent the tip of an enormous iceberg that's still largely unknown and undiscussed.  Despite statistics that should give us pause - some 30% of all attempted completed teenage suicide come from gay teens, up to 50% of transgender teens may have attempted (pdf) - this issue is stil dismissed as yet another front for the radical gay agenda.  So when CBS news gets around to suggesting that this may be a trend, I'm torn between pulling out what little hair I have left and expressing relief that someone's finally noticing.  Anti-bullying legislation has become a flashpoint, but the real challenge is getting help and support to LGBT teens who face rejection not just from their peers, but from their family, their church, their community, etc.  

++++

I have no idea what kind of case Shirvell might have if he decides to challenge his suspension in court: there are multiple issues intersecting here, and I'm not a lawyer.  What I do know is that that anger and sadness over this issue has finally bubbled over into something more than just a few activists and bloggers howling into the void.  Much of this has been covered by other dkos members, but here's a quick breakdown:

The Trevor Project has long been the major resource for young LGBTs faced with abuse, depression, and suicide.  If you're not already maxed out on donations and volunteer time, please consider them a worthy cause: they provide a vital lifeline for teens who may not have any other.

Dan Savage launched a video project called "It Gets Better", a campaign for older members of the LGBT community to post assurances that life indeed does get better:

Today we have the power to give these kids hope. We have the tools to reach out to them and tell our stories and let them know that it does get better. Online support groups are great, GLSEN does amazing work, the Trevor Project is invaluable. But many LGBT youth can't picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can't imagine a future for themselves. So let's show them what our lives are like, let's show them what the future may hold in store for them.

R&B singer Ciara and MTV VJ Lala posted their own video response to the project.

update: also worth watching, the celebrity-helmed series of videos promoting wegiveadamn.org has a PSA on youth suicide: "We Give a Damn"

Ellen Degeneres ended a recent episode of her show with a wake-up call.  It's hard to watch, but it's much harder to live:

Things will get easier.  People's minds will change. And you should be alive to see it.

Sadly the teens listed above are not.  We need to work to convince the others that life is worth fighting for.

Originally posted to De hominis dignitate on Fri Oct 01, 2010 at 02:43 AM PDT.

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