Friday, October 1, 2010

Enough Is Enough

This is a picture of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after his roommate and a friend web-casted Tyler and another man in an intimate moment. The 18 year-old jumped to his death from the George Washington bridge after he found out about the betrayal.

Clementi is the latest in a string of recent suicides among gay teens who have been mercilessly bullied into taking their own lives.

CNN posted the story below today, noting that those involved have been charged with "Invasion of Privacy." Personally, I think they should be charged with Hate Crimes and Involuntary Manslaughter, at the least:

13 year-old Seth Walsh of California; 15 year-old Billy Lucas of Indiana and 13 year-old Asher Brown of Texas have all recently committed suicide because of homophobic bullying by their classmates. These are children whose lives should have just been beginning, not ending. In Ohio, 11 year-old Tyler Wilson had his arm broken by bullies because he was a cheerleader. What the hell? Are Americans raising an army of homophobic monsters? Why? 

I really don't understand, because the young straight people I know are all perfectly sane, rational folks who agree that this is an epidemic that is quickly getting out of control. And it's certainly not something we can just chalk up to "Kids will be kids." Because the truth is, kids will be what their parents teach them to be. Nearly 70 years ago, Rogers and Hammerstein wrote a song for the musical South Pacific called "Carefully Taught," in which they very clearly say that hatred and bigotry are instilled, not innate. And while at the time they were specifically talking about racism, the message rings true for any minority:

And at the usually hilarious Kindertrauma, blogger Unkle Lancifer posted this diatribe about bullying and the 1977 Brian DePalma classic, Carrie. Not nearly as silly (and far angrier) than one might expect. And the undisputed Queen of the Gays, Ellen Degeneres, addressed the issue on her daily talk show today. I dare you to watch without getting as choked up as she does:

My question is, where are the teachers and administrators in all of this? The parents of all three younger boys say they repeatedly called their children's schools to complain, only to be met with empty platitudes. Are teachers so scared of these bullies themselves? Or are they just as hatefully homophobic? We can blame the Fred Phelpses and Maggie Gallaghers of the world all we want, but the ultimate responsibility for these reprehensible behaviors lies solely with the parents of the children committing them. sadly, the messages sent by groups like NOM and the Westboro Baptist Church seem to be taking hold, and that's something we must stop now, before it's too late.

Gay kids are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than straight kids, and far less likely to seek help when feeling suicidal. If you, or someone you know is considering suicide because of anti-gay bullying, I urge you call the Trevor Project, 24/7, at 866-488-7386. You are not alone. You are loved and you are worth keeping around. It gets better. I promise.

My heart goes out to all the families of these (and all) young folks who have suffered because of their sexuality, whether real or perceived. 

More, anon.
A very saddened Prospero


Kristen said...

There are a lot of people to blame - and it's hard for teachers when faced with a "not my child" parent, who can't possibly believe that their sweet little angel could be a bully, and then turns around and tells the principal that the teacher is a bully.

Hatred is taught. And it's terrifying that we live in a world where we accept that as okay. It's child abuse, teaching someone to fear and hate their fellow humans.

Mrs. Pine said...

totally agree. parents, administrators-everything starts in the home and then school. it's just sad that the "american home" can be filled with such ignorance, indifference, and hate. shame on people who should live to be an example for their children.

and as empathetic, sympathetic, and just plain upset i get as i write this, i just have to pray that the future holds enough brightness to outshine the dark. but i know it will.

thanks for the lovely and heartfelt posts as always, mister. your writing will always inspire and support others. i love you beyond what words can express!!