October 5, 2010
By Adam Bink
Over at Huffington Post, Keli Goff has an interesting piece on the recent gay teen suicides. In it, she discusses her African-American mother’s difficulty with racial bullying when she was in school, and argues that the adults are the ones to blame, here (bolding mine):
As I noted on Monday’s episode of “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” in these recent cases it is alleged that the students and their families sought help from various school officials with limited and disappointing results. But I have a hard time believing that if these kids had been bullied for their race, not for their sexual identities, that the adults tasked to protect them would not have reacted differently, or at the very least would have reacted at all.
Which makes me think that the kids doing the bullying are not really the ones at fault. They are simply taking their cues from adults. And the message they are receiving is that today in 2010 it may not be okay to call someone the N-word on the playground, but it is okay to call someone the F-word.
Ten years ago Matthew Shepard’s death became a rallying cry for college students of my generation. Many of us assumed (naively, we now know) that the kind of blatant, violent homophobia Matthew suffered would be a thing of the past in the near future. In the last decade our country has advanced significantly on the issue of gay rights, with a majority of Americans now supporting a variety of measures for gays and lesbians that they didn’t just a few years ago. We also have more openly gay public figures and elected officials than we ever have. But the deaths of Asher, Billy, Seth, Tyler and Raymond show that we still have work to do.
We need more adults willing to display the kind of courage that my mother’s principal did all of those years ago, when he stood up for someone because it was the right thing to do, not because it was the popular or politically correct thing to do. Because until we as adults confront homophobia head on, our kids are going to continue to victimize other kids and think it’s okay and that they have our blessing to do so.
While I think Keli may give the bullies a bit too much of a free pass in terms of fault, given that we don’t know where many of them “got it from”, I think she is on the right track here. I bold the last paragraph is because I question what kind of influence NOM is having. It brings me back to yesterday’s events on the NOM California tour, when a Vota Tus Valores/NOM associated man assaulted our videographer, or a few days’ before that, when Thomas tried to physically block Anthony from videotaping, or a few days before that, when Alfonso called us “paparazzi” and tried tot intimidate our videographer, and the events prior to that on the NOM “Summer for Marriage” tour, when Brian Brown tried to have our videographer evicted. Both events are examples of NOM’s bullying that went too far.
And when it comes down to pure messages and the influence adults have, tell me, what is the difference between this:
You better not grow up to be one of those sissy queers. That just ain’t right. It’s a sin against nature. God intended a man to love a woman and be fruitful and multiply.
In a simple biological framework abstracted from all religion and morality, homosexuality is like infertility. It is a sexual disability preventing certain individuals from participating in the normal reproductive patterns of the human species.
No, son, this is a choice you’re making. You just haven’t found the right girl yet and so you’re trying to love a man. Well, it won’t work. You can choose to be different, and this summer I’m sending you to a camp to make sure you get fixed.
To me, it’s just even more basic. Maybe you can change your desires and maybe you can’t, but you can always control your behavior… Behavior has to be subject to moral critique and reflection.
The first statements in each example are statements made every single day by the adults who influence children around them to bully LGBT kids.
The second statements are from NOM’s own Maggie Gallagher.
The only difference between the two is that Maggie uses big words.
Yesterday, I charged that NOM is no different than the bullies who harassed me or harassed those poor kids or anyone else across America.
Today, I say they’re no different than the adults in their lives, either.