In an op-ed in today’s New York Post, NOM president Maggie Gallagher opens with, “Do I have blood on my hands?” She’s writing a column about whether she — and people like her, who spew bile about gay Americans — are to blame for the recent string of gay suicides. Of course she doesn’t think she’s at fault.
Major gay-rights groups are saying so. Each of us who opposes gay mar riage, they say, is responsible for the terrible and tragic suicides of gay teens that recently hit the news.
[...] Apparently, either we all agree that gay marriage is good or gay children will die. It’s a horrific charge to levy in response to some pretty horrifying stories. Will gay marriage really reduce or prevent gay teen suicide? I felt a moral obligation to find out. Massachusetts has been tracking gay high school students for a decade using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
It’s not people like Maggie who create a culture of homophobia, you see. It’s that gay teens are predisposed to being the type of people who kill themselves!
LGBT teens were roughly four times as likely as other students to attempt suicide in the last year. They’re also about twice as likely to report being in a physical fight at school, three times more likely to say they were injured by a weapon and almost four times as likely to say they missed school because they felt physically unsafe, compared to other teens.
These kinds of negative outcomes are consistent with the idea that anti-gay bullying is mainly responsible for the higher suicide rate among gay teens. But as I kept reading, I kept finding pieces of the puzzle that don’t seem to fit the “it’s homophobia pulling the trigger” narrative.
Gay students are also more than twice as likely to report having had sexual intercourse before age 13 — that is, to be sexually abused as children. They are three times as likely to report being the victims of dating violence, and nearly four times as likely to report forced sexual contact. A majority of LGBT teens in Massachusetts reported using illegal drugs in the last month. (Perhaps most oddly, gay teens are also three times as likely as non-gay teens to report either becoming pregnant or getting someone else pregnant.)
Forced sex, childhood sexual abuse, dating violence, early unwed pregnancy, substance abuse — could these be a more important factor in the increased suicide risk of LGBT high schoolers than anything people like me ever said?
And why are LGBT teens more at risk for suicide? More at risk for violence in school? Because of comments like Gallagher’s, that normalize homophobia and the mistreatment of queers. Did one thing Maggie said in the past two years trigger a teen to find a gun or rope or a pill bottle and end his life? Nah, probably not “one thing.” But perpetuating a message that gay kids will grow up into gay adults that are undeserving of equality is the very psychological nightmare that makes teens think they have nowhere to go but down.
So yes, Mags, you and your bigot parade have blood on your hands.