"This YouTube video illustrates a sobering reality about the bullying crisis in our schools," said Andy Marra, spokesman for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). "We know there are far too many students like Jonah that experience harassment simply because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."
Teen bullying has reached epidemic proportions. Several young children have been so anguished they have killed themselves.
Nearly 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students experienced harassment at school in the past year, according to GLSEN.
All students deserve the right to reach their full potential and it is the responsibility of school staff to ensure safe learning environments for all that promote true respect for difference, the group says.
In one of the most highly publicized cases, California eighth grader Larry King, 15, was shot and killed by a classmate in 2008.
The murder trial of Brandon McInerney, 14 at the time of the shooting, ended in a hung jury. Media outlets reported that Brandon had killed Larry "allegedly because he identified himself as gay." Facing a second trial, McInerney, now 17, recently reached a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to plead guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter with use of a weapon in exchange for a 21-year prison term.
Earlier this year, Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old from Buffalo, N.Y., took his own life after he was bullied online with gay slurs for more than a year. His death prompted Lady Gaga to express outrage over relentless torment on social networking sites.
In 2009, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, only 11, hung himself after school bullies repeatedly called him "gay." The Springfield, Mass., Boy Scout was teased ruthlessly, despite his mother's pleas to the boy's school.