Rosie O’Donnell has joined the chorus of voices advocating gay rights in the wake of Tuesday’s overturning of the ban on same-sex marriage in California and news of yet another gay teen suicide tied to bullying, the latest a 14-year-old Washington middle school student Rafael Morelos.
O’Donnell Wednesday voiced her support of the Washington D.C.-based non-profit organization PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays); and Prayers for Bobby, the critically-acclaimed film detailing the real life story of Mary Griffith, a gay rights crusader (played by Sigourney Weaver, in a role that garnered her an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors award nominations) whose teenage son committed suicide due to her religious intolerance.
“The movie Prayers for Bobby is a must-see for everybody,” O’Donnell said in a message taped on the set of her Chicago-based OWN talk show and exclusively given to RadarOnline.com.
“If you have a gay member of your family, a gay friend, somebody who’s struggling with their kid’s sexuality or their own, PFLAG is the place to go. Rock on PFLAG, great work you’re doing everyday.”
We caught up with Prayers for Bobby executive producer, Daniel Sladek, who told us the Emmy-nominated film’s “been a tremendous inspiration to viewers worldwide.
“Thousands of emails continue to arrive praising the impact this film has made on viewers’ lives,” Sladek told RadarOnline.com exclusively. “This story is a superb teaching vehicle that effectively addresses the impact teens struggling with sexual identity endure from family members, friends and some politicians and religious leaders — members of society who continue to define being gay as something that requires fixing, potentially damaging these kids lives forever.”
Sladek’s comments ring especially relevant in the wake of the death of Morelos, an openly gay student at Cashmere Middle School, who reportedly hanged himself January 29 after enduring taunts from bullies about his sexuality, following in the tragic footsteps of Jamey Rodemeyer and Tyler Clementi.
That said, here are some statistics from The Trevor Project, the nationwide gay teen suicide helpline:
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, accounting for over 12 percent of deaths in this age group; only accidents and homicide occur more frequently.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses.
LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
LGBT youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGBT peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
It is estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender. In turn, 62 percent of homeless LGBT youth will attempt suicide at least once-more than two times as many as their heterosexual peers.
Prayers for Bobby — which originally premiered on Lifetime to 3.8 million viewers — is available on DVD; you can order it on Amazon.com and check out the film’s official website at www.prayersforbobby.com.
For more on PFLAG, check out www.pflag.org.
For more information about The Trevor Project, go to www.trevorproject.com.