“It Gets Better” Sexuality and Teenage Suicide

Sexuality

I’ve delayed this post for a couple of weeks because I wanted to word it perfectly. Well, I’m not going to procrastinate any longer on this subject.

You may be aware of the spate of teenage suicides in the United States recently. These were just kids who experienced bullying and attacks from their peers AND FROM ADULTS based on nothing more than their “perceived” sexual orientation.

Raymond Chase was a promising 19 year old student who decided that he’d rather end his life than continue to face the bullying and torment from his peers. So he hanged himself in his dorm room at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island.

18 year old Tyler Clementi jumped from a bridge to take his life when he was outed through the use of a webcam while he was being intimate with another man in his dorm room, and by people he believed to be friends no-less!

13 year old Asher Brown (13 YEARS OLD!) went home from school after being constantly harassed and bullied and shot himself in the head. His parents had been trying to protect their son by discussing the constant bullying with the school numerous times. The School FAILED!

15 year old Billy Lucas from Indiana also chose to hang himself. Classmates admitted afterward that he had faced relentless bullying from his peers over perceptions of his sexuality.

Seth Walsh from Minnesota, another 13 year old, passed away in hospital after being found attempting to hang himself. He too had been persistently bullied and harassed by peers for being gay.

Zach Harrington, 19, took his own life a week after attending a city council meeting where the issues of gay rights were aired. Opponents of a GLBT History Month used religious propaganda and hate-speech to combat the requested event. Friends of Zach now blame those in attendance at the meeting for allowing such hatred to be aired openly and attribute his suicide to these expressions of hatred and intolerance.

Let us not for one moment convince ourselves that this is restricted to the USA. While it is true that wholesale intolerance seems to be rising in America, we have all experienced this kind of intolerance in every city and town, in every country. Suicides occur all over the world for numerous reasons, and one of those reasons is bullying. Another is confusion. Combined, they create a toxic mix of self-loathing and delusions of worthlessness that is just as dangerous as the publicly exposed bullying alone.

I would like to share with you a very moving speech by City Councilman Joel Burns of Fort Worth Texas.

If you are an adult who believes that this story doesn’t concern you, I would like you to take one thing from this video that Mr. Burns touches on quite poignantly…

As an adult, you are responsible. You are responsible for your kid using derogatory terms. You are responsible for your son or daughter bullying another. You are responsible for raising your child to be a successful, polite, well-mannered and valued member of society. If you allow your child to act in this way toward any other person, you are failing in your duty as a parent. There is no argument here.

Likewise, if you are a teacher, or if you work with kids, and you hear ANY child behaving in this way toward other children, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. It is your job as an adult to set an example. If you fail to step in and correct a child’s intolerance and ignorance, you are failing as an adult. You should not be in that privileged position unless you are able to face your responsibilities as an adult

I would like all adults reading this to consider that the next time you hear a kid call another kid “queer” or “gay”, you step in and lead by example. If your child uses the word “gay” to describe something negatively, consider how that translates to their peers. Take your son or daughter aside and actually do your job as a parent; educate them in what is right and what is wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the responsibility of the educational system or your government to teach your child about society, sexual diversity, tolerance and morality, that’s your job. So you’d better start doing it before your son or daughter is accused of hounding another to suicide – or worse, be the victim themselves.

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