Laura Bush Lends Support to Bullied Gay Teens

Former first lady calls harassment of gay teens "really terrible."

ByRussell Goldman
October 27, 2010, 11:20 AM

Oct. 27, 2010— -- Former first lady Laura Bush, who came out in support of gay marriage and abortion after she vacated the White House, split again with some social conservatives to back anti-bullying measures intended to protect gay teens.

"Bullying of every kind, certainly gay teens, but any children is really terrible," Bush said in an interview Tuesday for the Yahoo Newsmakers series at the Women's Conference 2010 in California.

"We've read cases of children on the Internet where kids are committing suicide. It's really terrible. As adults, we have to be the ones who do something about it," Bush said in reference to a spate of recent suicides by gay teens, including Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge after his roommate surreptitiously broadcast a private sexual encounter on the Internet.

Bush said she was proud of openly gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, who was one of the first public officials to share a story of being bullied as a teenager and tell young people "it will get better."

Since then, celebrities and politicians, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama, have videotaped messages of hope directed at gay teens, as part of an online campaign called It Gets Better.

In May, more than a year after leaving the White House with President George W. Bush, the first lady admitted publicly that she and her husband "disagree" on many social issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage.

Despite her newfound willingness to diverge from her husband, Bush was careful with her words when talking about Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"Sarah Palin is Sarah Palin," Bush said in response to a question about how the one-time GOP vice presidential candidate has reshaped the way women run for office. "That's her style. It's obviously been effective. There are a lot of people who watch her and want her support."

Bush said she did not know whether Palin, who has recently visited Iowa and publicly endorsed a slate of candidates from across the country, would run for president in 2012.

"[Palin's] out there," Bush said. "She's speaking everywhere, but I don't know if that's because she wants to run. I have no idea."

Laura Bush Dishes on Husband

After leaving Washington, the Bushes moved to Texas, where they both wrote memoirs. Laura Bush's book, "Spoken from the Heart," came out in May. Her husband's memoir debuts next month.

President Bush, she said, "makes the coffee every morning like he used to before the eight years we had a butler make the coffee."

He has become a fan of the iPad, she said, and one game in particular.

"Scrabble is the one that George now seems to be playing constantly," she said. "Like, I'm trying to get his attention; 'I'm still here.'"

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