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Gay teen advocate to serve as diversity liaison in Phoenix mayor’s office

Saturday, March 24, 2012
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PHOENIX — An Arizona teen who spent several weeks in Washington last year to lobby Congress to make schools a safer environment for LGBT youth, is now working in the Phoenix mayor’s office to help raise awareness about bullying and diversity.

Caleb Laieski, a 17-year-old former high school student who was bullied, followed home and threatened for being gay, is now working for the city as a youth and diversity liaison for Mayor Greg Stanton, and will serve as a point of contact for youth issues.

Caleb Laieski

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work for one of the largest cities in our nation, and I look forward to continue making Phoenix a safer place for our entire community,” Laieski said.

“Being a youth myself, I feel that this opportunity will allow me to bring a young person’s perspective to the administration. During my time in this office, I will strive to see the dropout rate lower, intervention by school administrations steadily increase and the suicide rate rapidly decline,” he said.

Laieski dropped out of high school last year and completed his G.E.D. after he was repeatedly threatened with violence and death threats because he is gay — threats that he said were ignored by teachers and school administrators.

Since then, Laieski has worked to fight bullying in schools and decrease the suicide rate among bullied and LGBT teens.

He founded the organization Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination, successfully petitioned his former school district to add sexual orientation to their list of protections, testified in support of the Arizona Safe Schools Act and SB 1462, an anti-bullying bill, and met President Obama and Vice President Biden at a White House conference on bullying prevention, where he proposed appointing an presidential adviser on LGBT Youth Issues.

Last year, Laieski spent several weeks in Washington, meeting with dozens of lawmakers and congressional staffers to lobby support for the federal Student Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Laieski was recommended by the Phoenix organization “One n Ten,” a non-profit organization that assists LGBTQ. The group suggested Laieski to Stanton and his wife, Nicole France Stanton, who is working on anti-bullying efforts.

“I’m excited to have someone as talented as Caleb working in my office because I know he truly cares about our community, our city and our youth,” said the Mayor.

“I want Phoenix youth to have a voice in my office. I also want our students to be able to concentrate on their education for future success, not be bullied. All our kids deserve to live their lives, no matter who they are, because diversity is a strength in Phoenix,” said Greg Stanton, in a statement.

Laieski was named Man of the Year 2011 by “Echo” magazine, a Phoenix-based LGBT publication.

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