By: Gerri August
This article suggests some vital points in my opinion. The concept of teaching children that they should accept all types of people is a crucial part to development. This issue goes beyond that, however. August suggests that parents, educators, media, etc. as a society need to promote equality of ALL people, which includes the verbal and non verbal message we send our children. He says its more than not using the words "gay" or "fag", we must allow children to have their own concept of families and other situations without imposing our beliefs on them. For example, not all children have a mommy and a daddy at home, some only have one parent, some have two mommies/daddies, and children should be in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable whatever their personal situation is. This stretches throughout all grade levels as well. Making students feel as though they are safe and accepted regardless of their own situation or sexual preference should be a goal of every parent and educator.
Unfortunately, this is not the case today. Bullying of LGBTQ is a huge problem and has lead to suicide of LGBTQ youth increasing.
This article touches on the issue of bullying being directly related to the suicide rate and tells the story of Jamey Rodemeyer. Jamey was 14 years old when he took his own life. He was struggling with his sexuality and getting bullied immensely at school. How is it that we allow schools to be environments where this kind of bullying can take place?
School is not the only place kids see or experience bullying towards LGBTQ people. Our society casts a shadow over this issue, which goes back to S standing for Straightness, and that being a privilege. The media plays a big role in this as well. Everyone is inundated by messages from the media and many are not positive, which has a tragic effect on youth especially. Many people have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church, and their highly publicized protests. Just the name of their URL tells a lot about what they stand for, www.godhatesfags.com. If the URL doesn't tell you enough exploring the site for even one minute will tell you what you need to know.
It is obvious that this group of people is anti-gay, but what is worse is that their protests have been featured on news stations nation wide multiple times. We should be exposing children to different life situations, like August says, not the hatred of extremist protestors. If we could teach our students that there is not one right way then there could be more wide spread acceptance.
Due to the increase of youth suicides there are an increasing number of resources available to kids who may think the only solution is taking their life. Such as a website called PostSecret, where anyone can send in a postcard anonymously with a secret on it. This is not exclusive to LGBTQ people but is open to anyone who has a secret the need to tell.
Another helpful outlet from the media has been the "It gets better" campaign started by Dan Savage. A video project with an overall message that although times can get tough and even if you are being bullied, life gets bullied. Anyone is encouraged to submit a video and the project has gotten a lot of celebrity attention. President Obama has even made a video encouraging people that it will get better.
Questions/Points to Share:
Although these projects are great, is it enough to have a few internet campaigns? Or do we need to attack the problem more aggressively? I feel as though this message of acceptance needs to come across all fronts, form teachers, parents, the media, and peers, for society to change so that students feel safe no matter what their family situation or sexual orientation is.