The county Board of Commissioners’ unanimous vote to proclaim Oct. 11 as National Coming Out Day throughout Multnomah County left D’Marcus Warrick-McPherson very proud of his community.
“It is saying we’re not afraid to be who we are,” said Warrick-McPherson, an 18-year-old Jefferson High School student who came out in eighth grade.
“I love it. I love it. I love it,” Warrick-McPherson said of the National Coming Out Day proclamation adopted on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Larry Smith of Oregon’s Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); Khalil Edwards, racial justice and alliance building organizer for Basic Rights Oregon and Joy Wallace, co-chair of the Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition shared Warrick-McPherson’s appreciation.
The three testified to the discrimination young people face, particularly from classmates and coaches. Smith presented troubling statistics from the 2011 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). That survey found more than 80 percent of LGBT students nationally ages 13-20 reported being verbally harassed. More than 55 percent experienced electronic harassment.
The Board’s proclamation states that Multnomah County supports National Coming Out Day, which began in 1988, because the county recognizes the “courage it takes to come out, as well as the importance of respect for the diversity and dignity of all LGBTQ community members and employees of Multnomah County.”
Last month, Commissioner Loretta Smith hosted an anti-bullying assembly at Grant High School that included a focus on LGBTQ students and cyber-bullying. On Thursday, she sponsored the proclamation saying it is essential that the county acknowledge and support people who come out as LGBTQ.
“It’s important we continue to recognize the struggles of our friends, family and community members and be their allies,” Commissioner Smith said.