Is the Gay community irresponsible for encouraging LGBT Youth to come out come out wherever they are? Sure it makes us feel good to see LGBT kids coming out and being accepted on GLEE, but are we lying to kids out there in small town America?
Does the sense of empowerment these kids get from being themselves offset the potential dangers they face? I’d like to think one outweighs the other, but every small town teen suicide adds more weight to the argument. Unfortunately 14 year old Kenneth James Weishuhn of Primghar, Iowa has become yet another sad statistic shifting the balance. After coming out on Facebook in March, Kenneth was the target of relentless bullying at school, received voice-mail containing death threats and was the focus of an anti-gay Facebook hate page. Local authorities are investigating. Kenneth was a sweet sensitive kid with a heartbreaking page dedicated to the “dream wedding” he’ll never have and will be missed deeply by his family and friends. Iowa paper The Sioux City Journal published a full front page editorial on bullying. I sincerely hope the children who drove him to this are haunted by guilt the rest of their lives.
Telling them It Gets Better isn’t enough. Before we can responsibly encourage LGBT kids to come out, we need to foster a more tolerant and accepting environment for those in the sort of unenlightened communities that use their “Holy Bible” as a cudgel. How many more children have to die before the so-called “Christian Communities” realize they are NOT doing what Jesus would do.
Anyone who doesn’t see that this kind of EVIL behavior (death threats and psychological torment) is simply unacceptable in civilized human beings was likely a child who learned to hate from a parent. Bigots with children will continue to encourage such actions from their lemming-like offspring UNTIL/UNLESS there are real ramifications – and NOT just for the bad kids – parents who teach their children to commit hate crimes should be punished as well. The only way to reach small-town minds is with the long arm of the law. Al Franken’s Obama endorsed Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act sound like a good start, but until I learn more about punishments I won’t know if they go far enough.
We can’t arrest someone for every instance of teasing, but extreme ongoing bullying (online or face-to-face) needs to be illegal with punishments such as fines, tolerance education and forced community service (for both child and parent), but bullying someone to the point of a suicide attempt should carry a harsher punishment… MUCH higher punitive fines, longer and more in-depth education, plus an additional 3-6 months Mandatory detention in a Juvenile detention facility for the children responsible AND a ruling that may help with a civil judgement should the victim’s family decide to sue the parents (for allowing their children to commit hate crimes) OR school (for not adequately protecting the students).
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|Pixar, Google and Facebook insist “IT GETS BETTER”||Broadway and a TV Bully say “IT GETS BETTER”||Google Chrome tells us “IT GETS BETTER”||It Gets Better… we swear. so hold on.|