Activist Rich Swier Says Bullying Is “Peer Pressure and it Is Healthy”
WASHINGTON–The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, is calling out Tea Party activist Rich Swier for his dangerous remarks trivializing bullying. In response to a statistic that said 77 percent of bullied youth were targeted due to their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, Swier said bullying “is peer pressure and it is healthy.” Swier went on to compare being gay to behaviors like smoking, underage drinking and drug abuse.
“Bullying of any kind is unacceptable and can lead to very real and serious consequences,” said HRC’s Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “For Rich Swier to publicly suggest that bullying is in fact normal and healthy is irresponsible. It’s alarming that any adult would classify behavior that can cause youth very real physical and emotional harm as acceptable under any circumstances.”
Swier made his comments after the group Gulf Coast Gives, which supports civic enhancement projects in the Gulf region, announced its intention to raise funds to bring straight ally Hudson Taylor to Florida for an event. Right Wing Watch reports on Swier’s full comments, including his remarks that he “agree[s] with Gulf Coast Gives that ‘LGBT youth are up to five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts.’ Homosexuality, like drugs, harms young people if they experement [sic] with it. That is the greatest tragedy.”
“Rich Swier’s profoundly misguided comments reveal that young people must not only overcome prejudice and bullying from their peers but from adults as well,” said Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally. “His statement reinforces damaging stereotypes that endanger our youth and dishonors the basic principles of dignity and respect at the heart of our culture. We need leaders and allies, sending a clear message – prejudice and bullying are never acceptable.”
HRC is calling on its supporters to send a message to Swier that this type of rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible. It’s part of HRC’s Call it Out campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about incidents of homophobia and transphobia as they occur around the country. Take action at www.hrc.org/callitout.
All youth deserve safe environments where they can flourish and not live in fear of ridicule or harassment. HRC works with counselors and school administrators across the country to create welcoming environments where diversity is nourished, not discouraged. The Welcoming Schools program, for example, provides administrators, educators and parents/guardians with the resources necessary to create learning environments in which all learners are welcomed and respected. Learn more at www.welcomingschools.org.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.