If your son or daughter isn’t speaking to you today, for once you can chalk it up to something other than hormones. Across the country, students are taking a vow of silence today in solidarity with gay rights. While some parents have been urged by social conservatives to keep their kids at home or distribute pamphlets telling gay kids they can change, thanks to Facebook and other online sites, the Day of Silence has become a nationwide phenomenon. Want to know what could possibly get a teenager to shut-up for a whole day? Here’s a few of the many reasons.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network released a study this week of Pennsylvania students and found that:
“Nearly nine out of 10 transgender students experienced verbal harassment at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation and gender expression, more than half experienced physical harassment because of their sexual orientation and gender expression and more than a quarter experienced physical assault because of their sexual orientation and gender expression.”
This is up from the last survey, conducted in 2007.
The New York Times brings up the case of Eric Mohat:
“In March, 2007, 17-year-old Eric Mohat shot himself in the head, after a long-term tormentor told him in class, “Why don’t you go home and shoot yourself; no one will miss you.” Eric liked theater, played the piano and wore bright clothing, a lawyer for his family told ABC news, and so had long been subject to taunts of “gay,” “fag,” “queer” and “homo.”
In early April, this report came out from GLSEN:
“An 11-year-old Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hung himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother’s weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year.”
Pink News UK reports on the agonizing struggle that the parents of 18-year-old Michael Causer have had in trying to keep their son’s killer behind bars:
“Eighteen-year-old Michael, who worked as a hairdresser in Liverpool, was attacked at the Huyton home of his friend Michael Binsteed’s grandmother.
After a 999 call he was found by paramedics in the street on Friday 25th July.
Despite surgery to try to reduce swelling on his brain, he died at 2:30pm on Saturday 2nd August.
James O’Connor was sentenced to a minimum of 11 years in prison for Michael’s murder, while Michael Binsteed was given a suspended sentence and community service for perverting the cause of justice.”
This is just the latest news out from this month. Morons like Mike Huckabee don’t think that the gay rights movement is a real movement, because nobody’s “head is being bashed in”, but he couldn’t be more wrong. One of the sad duties of running a daily gay blog is keeping track of all the teenagers and children who are murdered, beaten and harassed because they’re either gay or perceived to be gay. It’s an epidemic and what’s worse is, that it’s in our hands to stop it.
How does this happen again and again? It’s simple, really. Kids follow the example of their parents. If they see that it’s okay to hate on gay people, they will do it themselves. Perhaps this is why we become so infuriated by the social conservatives who lie and pretend to ‘love the sinner and hate the sin’ to further their own bigoted agenda. As unjust as it is to not have our civil rights, when we see kids murdered because of their sexuality or perceived sexuality, we’re reminded that homophobia quite literally kills. I hate this. I hate that good kids stay home from school in fear of being bullied or beaten up. I hate that some feel they have no escape other than to take their own life. I hate that close-minded people who don’t deserve the time of day can influence someone whose life is just beginning to end it.
I still remember to this day the kid in my high school who called me ‘fagot’ every day, over and over again, whispering it when the teacher wasn’t looking, mouthing it from across the cafeteria. Finally one day, he said it to me and I answered, “Yeah, you got a problem with it?” It shut him up, but not everyone is so lucky.
When you tell your son or daughter that it’s okay to discriminate, when you withhold them from school out of fear they’ll be exposed to the values of tolerance and fairness, you are sending them the message that it is okay to go on calling a kid ‘fagot’. You are telling them that it’s fine to harass students because of how they act or dress– and when it goes too far, when that child is murdered or commits suicide, their blood is on your hands.
So, if your son or daughter stays silent today, be proud of them, not because they’re standing up for gay rights, but because they’re standing up against bullying and harassment. And if you’re encouraging them to stay at home or to confront the kids who are standing up for safe schools, perhaps it’s time you take a minute and think about the message and values you’re sending your children, because frankly, I don’t want to keep writing about how children raised by people like you keep making life miserable for kids who were once just like me.