As a rule, I don’t talk religion or politics on my blog, or Twitter and Facebook. However, this article on the bullying of gay teens has enraged me to the point that I have to speak out about this.
Some personal background before I begin however: I’m 36 years old. I’m bisexual. I’m Catholic. I’ve taught at a Catholic school. And right now I’m a PhD student working on the issue of bullying and cyber bullying. I was bullied as a kid. I was called “lesbian” before I even knew what a lesbian was; I had to go home and look it up in the dictionary- true story. I’ve never flaunted my sexuality. It’s a personal thing for me and in my opinion no one’s business, except for myself and whomever I am dating. What goes on in the bedroom of ANYONE should stay there and is of no consequence to anyone but the partners involved.
That being said, there is an epidemic of LBGT teens committing suicide, having suicidal thoughts, and involved in para-suicidal behaviours. They feel alone, targeted, and often feel they have no one to talk to, no one to go to, and they feel it will never get better. (Hence the It Gets Better project, which is invaluable.) But it can’t work if kids/teachers/parents are afraid to speak out because the school’s policies have an underlying current of discrimination because of the religious persuasion of the community. Policies that stated that school personnel had to “stay neutral” on issues regarding sexual persuasion. And I am sure that the community that the Rolling Stone article focused on is not the only one in the US, or around the world.
I’m sorry but this “neutral policy” is utter bullshit. Bullying whether due to religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, income, whether you are pink, purple, polka dotted is WRONG and should not be tolerated full stop. There is no reason to remain NEUTRAL. If a child is being called a dyke or a whore or the c word or the n word, it needs to be stopped. The bully needs to be punished and the victim needs to be reassured, protected, and helped- not ignored just because he or she may or may not be gay, Jewish, African American, or any other designation under the sun.
The victims are being made to feel ashamed and worthless, and feel they have no other form of recourse than to take their own lives because the adults in their life are powerless to take the steps to speak out against policies that are vague at best. Policies of any kind of discrimination have no place in public schools. Policies that are neutral or anti-gay in public schools HAVE NO PLACE. There is a separation of church and state in the US for a reason. Policies that are influenced by religion have no place in public schools.
Children should feel safe in school. They should not fear walking down the hall or going into the bathroom. They should be able to be individuals, and be themselves and not fear slurs being shouted at them, texted to them, or written on their Facebook walls.
Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” I think this needs to be remembered by those who wish to condemn students who may be different, for whatever reason. No child, no student, no human being should have to be made to feel that they are as lesser person because of their sexual orientation. And no more should have to commit suicide because they feel there is no way out. I think members of the religious right, and those who wish to push their beliefs should think about that the next time they condemn someone who is “different.”