Anti-bullying conference in Mission Valley aimed at supporting LGBT students


Hundreds of educators and students from across the nation are in San Diego this weekend learning how to keep bullying out of schools.

18-year-old Jimmy told 10News he has always been picked on.

He said it is sometimes because of what he wears, although most of the time it is because of how he behaves.

"Someone had hateful messages," he said. "They said, 'Jimmy, I can't be your friend anymore because if I talk to you and hang out with you, people will think I'm gay too.'"

Even though Jimmy said he still is not 100 percent sure about his sexual orientation, he has taken it upon himself to make sure this does not happen to anyone else.

That is why he and many other teens attended the annual Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership's national educator conference, which is aimed at informing educators and students from across the country about issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex community.

Statistics show eight out of ten LGBT teens are harassed at school and they are nearly three times more likely to drop out of school because of bullying.

Mari Cichocki-Barlett is 14 years old and she is bisexual. Although she has not been bullied, she says many of her friends have been picked on because of their sexual orientation.

"It hurts because I see it as peace, love, unity, and respect," she said. "You just have to be. We're all human we're all the same."

To help spread that word to his school, Jimmy said he will use the suggestions he learned to reach out to others like himself who are being bullied.

"Start with lower schools and make posters about bullying especially with the LGBT groups," he said. "We just need to have more classes like this and teach people about the way the world is built... and that there's all kinds of different people."

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