They hope Tyler's story will open parents' eyes in time. "We realized that losing a child is probably the worst experience a parent can have," says Tyler's father, Joseph. "We started the foundation to remember Tyler and try to keep other parents from going through this kind of suffering that we went through."

When it comes to gay bullying, society seems to be experiencing something of a paradigm shift. "I compare it to what happened in the South in the civil rights movement," says Jamie Nabozny, the plaintiff in the country's first gay bullying case. "The fall of 2010 will be comparable to what happened in Selma."

Growing up in small-town Wisconsin, Nabozny was shoved into lockers, urinated on, and beaten so badly in a hallway that he had to have stomach surgery. In 1996, Nabozny sued the school's administrators. His bully took the stand and testified that their principal knew about the violent abuse. The jury found that Nabozny deserved equal protection based on sexual orientation under the U.S. Constitution and awarded him almost $1 million.

Seth Walsh, 13, hanged himself after relentless bullying.
Courtesy of the ACLU
Seth Walsh, 13, hanged himself after relentless bullying.
Sex columnist Dan Savage, right, and husband Terry Miller appear in the inaugural "It Gets Better" video.
Sex columnist Dan Savage, right, and husband Terry Miller appear in the inaugural "It Gets Better" video.

"That hadn't been done before," says Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director at Lambda Legal, the firm that represented Nabozny. "And still we're lacking a federal law that is specific on protection for students on the basis of sexual orientation."

Nabozny realized how little had changed since his experience and started speaking at schools two years ago. He's since received apologies from former classmates and even the children of his bullies. "A lot of people in the country don't care if gay people have the right to marry — they didn't think too much about LGBT rights," Nabozny says. "Then people saw kids were killing themselves and said, 'Wait a minute, this isn't OK.' "

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3 comments
Manmi1
Manmi1

Those macho types who would bully someone they consider weaker are "real men" aren't they?  If they truly were such strong men... why didn't they pick on guys who were on the football team and twice their size?  The truth about bullies is they're cowards wearing a mask.

Prudence
Prudence

What a bunch of garbage that is based on unsubstantiated, politically biased, psychobable and outright lies.

 
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