Perkins maintained, "There's no correlation between inacceptance of homosexuality and depression and suicide. These young people who identify as gay or lesbian, we know from the social science that they have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict."
This week the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to public school districts and universities nationwide providing guidance on complying with federal laws intended to prevent harassment of students. In a press statement about the letter, the Department of Education states that federal education anti-discrimination laws provide protection against harassment of gay and lesbian students. The letter states that its guidance "explains educators' legal obligations to protect students from student-on-student racial and national origin harassment, sexual and gender-based harassment, and disability harassment."
Russlynn H. Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights, told The New York Times, "Folks need to wake up. We have a crisis in our schools in which bullying and harassment seems to be a rite of passage, and it doesn't need to be that way."
In its coverage of the 10-page letter, The Times wrote that Education Department officials said that distribution of the letter "took on new urgency in recent weeks because of a string of high-profile cases in which students have committed suicide after enduring bullying by classmates," and citied an incident at Rutgers University involving the harassment of a male student following his "intimate encounter with another man." The Rutgers student committed suicide last month.
The Education Department includes a link to the administration's "Stop Bullying Now Campaign," which includes research on the matter. A 2010 study states that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth "are more likely to report being bullied than are heterosexual youth."