A Fox Valley health care provider is kicking off an initiative to prevent gay teens from killing themselves. The program is called “Include” and is working with schools, churches and police to start an area-wide discussion.
Theda Care Health System says teen suicide is a major issue in the Fox Valley. Especially when it comes to teens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered.
Paula Morgen is heading the “Include” initiative. She doesn't have specifics but says the majority of teen suicides in the Appleton, Fox Valley area are among gay kids, some of whom were bullied.
“Include” will present four months worth of awareness raising, including a discussion of biological causes of sexuality and gender identity. “It's not as easy as XX and XY chromosomes, you're a male and you're a female. There's so much more we know about this today and it's very complex. It's not black and white.”
Wisconsin native Jamie Nabozny will deliver 20 talks at Fox Valley Schools. Nabozny successfully sued the Ashland school district in the 1990's over rampant bullying.
Morgen says the goal is to get the whole community's attention.
“We knew we were reaching beyong the choir in our community programming and in the schools. There's quite a mix. The projections are anywhere between two to 15 percent of the population identifies as LGBT. It's a bit of a range there but with thousands and thousands of kids in the Fox Valley area we know we'll be reaching a lot who need to hear this message.”
The “Include” initiative is unique to the Fox Valley, but Morgen says suicide among teens who are gay is a universal issue.