I posted something on my facebook yesterday about an 8th grader in Texas who took his life because he was ashamed of being gay and was continually bullied at school. Now today I read that there have been two other similar instances at different school across the country within the last week or so. SERIOUSLY!??!
Look at these faces:
Asher Brown - 13 years old - Houston, TX
Billy Lucas - 15 - Greensburg, IN
Seth Walsh - 13 years old - Tehachapi, CA
These three young boys, all of which are said to have been been happy, high-acheiving students in school, thought that the best way out to escape the torture they were recieveing was to take their own lives. This is all because they were bullied and called "gay", "faggot" and every other homophobic slur known to man. Middle school and high school was a tough time for most everyone... but can you imagine being at the point where you feel that the only way you can escape the torment is to remove your soul from this planet??? I am so incredibly saddened to even comprehend having a feeling that deep and dark.
Each of these boys had their own story. Their own set of parents... different school districts... different sets of friends and enemies. But no matter what their situation, each story revolves around the same issue: homophobic bullying.
Now we can water it down, by just using the umbrella term of "bullying"... but essentially it comes down to homophobic bullying. Kids who for some reason feel that they have enough power and popularity over another kid that they can antagonize him over something so petty as sexual orientation if he happens to act or say things that may be interpreted as less masculine than other boys. If we overshadow that issue by just calling it "bullying", then people interpret that as simply some sort of give-me-your-lunch-money, I'm-gonna-stuff-you-in-a-locker mentality. It's more than that. It's deeper than that. It's rooted in discrimination and hatred, laced with an I'm-better-than-you-because-of-your-sexuality mentality. It's causing other kids to take thier lives. And... its disgusting.
Who are the parents of these kids doing the bullying? What sorry excuse for a human are you to raise a child with such a low level of tolerance that they would feel empowered to make boys like Asher, Billy and Seth feel this intense pain? Wake the hell up parents! It is 2010 and we need to be teaching our children about love, tolerance and acceptance. The sadness of this, is that the parents of these students doing the bullying are either a) perpetuating the acceptance of homophobia in thier homes by setting such ridiculous standards and stereotypes of gender and sexuality... or b) just completely absent from their child's life and not teaching them important lessons that will make them compassionate citizens of our world.
Not to stray away from the main topic... but it makes me even more upset to think that law will not let gay couples get married and have kids... when they would raise children who would be overflowing with love, kindness and tolerance. We've been through this shit in middle school and high school, and we would do our best to raise children who would not inflict this sort of pain on others. YET... the law allows any straight person to raise a child and put them in our public schools... even though there are obviously those people out there who are incapable of teaching thier own kin the most important lesson of all: love.
The world needs a campaign against this issue. Not just bullying... but homophobic bullying. Let's treat it as it is, instead of putting money into anti-bullying campaigns which only mask the true issue. AND... let's hold our students in public schools accountable for thier actions when they are antagonizing other students for stupid reasons.
Thankfully, someone recently started a campaign on YouTube called the "It Gets Better" project. It is meant for adult members of the LGBT community to post videos for our younger coutnerparts to tell them that: yes, dealing with your sexuality when you are young sucks, and bullying sucks... but it DOES get better. This is the sort of thing that the world needs to grab a hold of and teach our kids of tomorrow that there is hope, and that there are millions of people in the world that you can reach out to for love and support. (Check out the "It Gets Better" project: http://www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject )
So as I conclude with this rant... I ask you to share the stories of Asher, Billy and Seth. Don't keep this taboo topic "in the closet" any longer. It needs to be discussed. Parents need to have these discussions with their kids and teach them tolerance. The only way to elminate the problem is to eliminate the cause of it... and right now the problem is caused by parents who are either teaching their children intolerance or not teaching thier children at all. DO YOUR PART PARENTS! You only get one chance at raising a child correctly. Don't screw it up.