March 21, 2012
Caption: Caleb Laieski
Caleb Laieski, a high school student who was bullied, followed home and threatened for being gay, is now the youngest advocate on loan in the Phoenix Mayor’s Office and working to make a difference.
Laieski, 17, as a youth and diversity liaison, will work to raise awareness about bullying and diversity and serve as a point of contact for youth issues.
“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.”
Laieski, a former high school student, said he endured anti-gay bullying on a daily basis, which included being followed home by other students and threatened for being gay. Laieski said felt he had no other choice but to leave
his school and pursue his GED. Laieski worked for the past five years to fight bullying in schools and decrease the suicide rate among teens by:
- Founding the organization Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination.
- Successfully petitioning his former high school district to add sexual orientation to their list of protections.
- Testifying his support for the Arizona Safe Schools Act and SB 1462, an anti-bullying bill.
- Meeting with President Obama and Vice President Biden to ask them to appoint an adviser on LGBT Youth Issues.
- Being named Echo magazine’s Man of the Year in 2011.
Laieski was recommended by the Phoenix organization One n Ten, a non-profit dedicated to serving and assisting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. The organization suggested Laieski to Stanton and his wife, Nicole France Stanton, who is working on anti-bullying efforts. One n Ten is providing a small stipend for Laieski to work five hours per week in Stanton’s office. There is no cost to the Mayor’s office or the city for Laieski’s work.
“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,” Stanton said. “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.”