jan’s side door

voices.outtakeonline: LGBTQ teens are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Over the past year numerous teens have taken their own lives after facing bullying incidents. When asked what advise she would have for these kids, Donley stated, “The advise that I have and I didn’t have this when I was that age, is find an adult that knows you and believes in you and likes you, loves you, just the way you are, and keeps affirming that in you. And keep that adult presence in as many ways possible. It seems to me that the message is pretty clear that kids who have at least one adult who really supports them and stands by them fare a lot better. So I would urge them to seek people out even if it means going to organizations that deal with LGBTQ stuff and actually talking to people, to not to be isolated, to figure out a way to feel like you’re not alone, because you’re not, but sometimes it’s hard not to believe that. And find someone to be in your corner” (Gay Activist Jan Donley Speaks OUT).

About The Side Door: On her first day of high school, fifteen-year-old Melrose Bird, a.k.a. Mel, sees a woman on a park bench staring at Drift High School where her teenage son, Alex Weber, died five years ago. Alex Weber’s death has never been discussed in the town or at the school. But Mel and her best friend Frank become obsessed with Alex’s grave and consumed by the why of his suicide. When Mel happens upon a pair of Alex’s cargo pants, she takes them. And what she finds inside the pockets brings into focus the story of Alex’s brief life and his death. Determined to pressure the school and the town into recognizing why Alex died, Mel embarks on a journey and confronts a world of adult secrecy and deception. Mel also contends with a peer group who greet Mel’s assertion of her identity–her buzz cut and the pants she wears–by scrawling DYKE across her locker. But anyone who thinks Mel Bird will retreat from disapproval or opposition is badly mistaken (The Side Door [Paperback]).

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