Caleb Laieski, the 15-year-old gay hero who made news last year when he claimed bullying and death threats at his Arizona high school went ignored by teachers, is putting Arizona schools on notice: Ignore anti-gay torment, and I’ll have your ass sued.
Caleb, who came out in eighth grade and attends Willow Canyon High School in Surprise, Arizana, outside Phoenix, founded his own gay advocacy group at age 13. It’s called Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination (GLUAD). And he’s been working to make sure other kids around the country don’t have to be told they’re a “fucking faggot,” and don’t have to be ignored by school administrators — as he was. So he’s emailed letters to 5,000 school administrators, lawmakers, and city council members putting them on notice that anti-bullying policies must be instituted; otherwise there could be “legal ramifications.”
Not that Caleb wants to sue, he says. “This is more not to threaten a lawsuit but to put resources out there. But if they don’t want to cooperate, there’s going to be consequences.” As there should be.
Like a lawsuit from ACLU Arizona? While Caleb worked with the group in his own matter with the Dysart Unified School District, the organization is tight lipped about whether it’ll work with Caleb in suing other schools that ignore student torment. But that doesn’t matter to Caleb, who says his two-person organization (he works with friend Casey Cameron, 35, in Chicago) is prepared to launch legal action if necessary.
When I hear about young people like Caleb, who are doing instead of just talking, and who are so confident in their own person that they aren’t afraid to go nationwide in the interests of protecting other kids … well, I just get tingles.
Caleb is doing something so simple, so cheaply and so effectively, it makes me think that HE should be running HRC and GLAAD and every other money-sucking gay organization.
I mean really, can’t they be doing the same thing across the country? Or is that beneath them? Caleb is the future of gay rights, not Gay Inc., and we need more people who prefer action to cocktail parties.
Some gay people are really brave and do amazing things. Caleb is one of them. I hope Caleb is doing great acedemically. I think he should be rewarded with some money for college. Someone should set up a college fund for him.
Obama DID say DADT would happen on his watch... (John From England)
Good for him. 15? He looks like he’s in his late 20’s
Caleb is so strong willed. Standing up for what’s right in the face of bigotry and people who only give lipservice.
This is what needs to happen, though. No more simply allowing discrimination or caring only after a kid commits suicide. Especially when it comes to the kids.
Many of these schools, especially in states/districts like Arizona, Anoka-Hennepin (home of Bachmann), Texas and others, will NOT come out against anti-gay bullying with the mindset that is more or less an approval of homosexuality, which administrators/superintendents/parents/their society is against. Either the gay community and supporters make sure our kids are protected or they won’t be.
Maybe he could sue Joe Solomnase for taking gay money and attempting to do nothing until threatened with losing his job.
I don’t mean to be picky but I doubt the kid lives in Surprise, Arizana. It doesn’t exist. At least Arizana doesn’t
Love it. Great kid.
I totally agree with previous comments. Forget the whiners at the big gay charities (and GetEQUAL, who’ve been begging here for far too long)): if you want bang for your buck, give this kid your cash.
I think parents and kids have to start saying “Lawsuit” from the get go to rattle the powers that be into action.
My nephew was being bullied a few years back (not even for gay stuff) and after my sister had several meetings with the powers that be, I told her to go in the next time and say “If you don’t put an end to this, I’ll sue. Kids are winning big judgments all over the country.”
Guess what within 2 days the bully in question was yanked in and told if he didn’t stop he’d be expelled. Case closed.
I agree with the majority of these posts. It’s nice to see someone using the legal system to turn on bigots. I just wish we didn’t have to use the tools of our oppressors to get justice. That seems to bring about more resentment than anything.
Either way, this kid is doing 100,000x’s more than the HRC and GLAAD will ever do.
Obama DID say DADT would happen on his watch... (John From England)
Exactly. Agree fully.
When officials fail to document and have serious consequences for bullies, for whatever reason, they should be looking at the unemployment lines.
But its the conservative churches who should be put on trial for mass murder and crimes against humanity for causing thousands of gay kids to commit suicide every year. And also str8 kids who are bullied and called gay – quite a few.
And my son, who failing with girls was alcoholic, doing poorly in school, etc. At least he didn’t fall into drugs. Eventulaly he learned the how to get a girl routine, is now 37 and married etc.
His problem – he thought that if he couldn’t succeed with girls, there was nothing else to do except “become gay”. Which to him was a fate worse then death.
Given what I know now about the total evil of some churches< if he had committed suicide I'd prob be dead. But there would be a shitload of bishops and ministers there with me.
We are fighting the wrong war on terrorism. It begins at home
@randy: Thanks, Randy! I couldn’t agree more! Find me on facebook; would love to connect!
ALL: Thank you all for the support and inspiring comment! Please find me on facebook and stay in touch!
@Caleb Laieski: Thank you!
Oh Yes He Does!!!! I know because I serve Caleb happily at our Willow Canyon High School Snackbar.
I applaud this kid. I think that part of the problem is this artificial divide that some of us (hand raised) have bought into. I mean.. I’m older, I have my relationship and career, and I am so focused on marriage rights that I sometimes forget how badly it can suck to be a gay kid, STILL, in 2011. If you live and work in a gay friendly ghetto, you almost want to forget how bad it was where you came from, and pretend that all the abuse is a relict of the past. We (I) need to stop thinking of specific rights (like marriage rights, or housing rights) and start thinking about human rights.
Caleb Laieski is my hero!
I wrote to my high school (I was Class of ’72) to tell them how I suffered HELL at that school & I hoped things were better for gay kids there today. Turns out my old high school is now a school for the arts and it’s chock-a-block with gay kids, gay teachers, and gay acceptance… Yay!! But at most American schools it might as well be 1950, so thank God for Caleb Laieski!
I wish people would address a key reason why administrators won’t crack down on anti-gay bullying. If one kid bullies one kid, the administration will more likely than not will do the right thing and punish the bully. If 2 kids bully 1 kid, again the administration will probably punish the bullies.
But when 15, 20, 25 kids are involved in the bullying, if it becomes a mass event, then the principal becomes hesitant. He starts to worry about having 30 irate parents in his office. And if the bullying is serious enough to warrant suspension or expulsion, he worries that that he can’t possibly a group of kids that might comprise 5 or 10 percent of the student population. So he convinces himself either that the victim is somehow provoking the hostility, or he satisfies himself that a mild talking-to will suffice to keep things under control.
I believe that Seth Walsh, Billy Lucas, and Asher Brown all confronted this “mass bullying” scenario and got no help from their school. This inaction also sends a message to the bullies that there is safety in numbers. It is this scenario that needs to be addressed clearly and directly. The administration needs to feel that it is empowered to act against all bullies, no matter how numerous.
@ForeverGay: Excellent idea. I’d gladly contribute to it. He’s not only setting an example for the young GLBTQ youth, but to the older members of our community. He’s inspired me. Keep me informed.
PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
@hf2hvit: Use the googles, thats a crappy shot of him. He is actually pretty hawt.
Caleb: Mega kudos to you. You having the balls to take on the adminstrators is giving them just what they fear most: bad publicity.
@Lauren: I live in AZ and can tell you that Surprise AZ does in fact exist; I use to live there too.
@Lauren: Check a thing called a map. Surprise, AZ is there.
The issue was not disbelief that a town was named Surprise, but that the article thinks Arizona is spelled Arizana.
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