Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Glimmer of Hope in a Sea of Sadness

Tyler Clementi was 18, a freshman at Rutgers. Billy Lucas, from Indiana, was 15. Asher Brown was just 13. So was Seth Walsh. Within the last two weeks all four of these boys killed themselves. In all four instances the causes seem to point towards bullying because they were gay. From middle schools to universities, young people are killing themselves because they don’t fit in.

While progressives across this country wage a battle for basic civil rights; marriage, equal military service, adoption, etc, kids across this country are waging personal battles. They’re trying to make it through the day. Make it through another day where they’re the outsiders. Growing up isn’t easy, but growing up gay is even harder.

However there is some hope. Today at Indiana University there was a debate between the College Democrats and the College Republicans. During this debate the topic of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was brought up. One Republican began to give his party’s platform on the issue. He basically said, it’s not that bad, wait for the defense report to come back to congress, we shouldn’t do this at a time of war. Being there I can say as enthused as this member was to talk about repealing health care, he wasn’t very enthused about defending DADT. After a passionate response from the Democrats side, the Republican member said something like this, “I personally don’t agree with this policy, while my party wants the status quo, I think it should be repealed.” I couldn’t believe it. I was confused, but happy. His Republican friends look equally confused, mostly staring into space. It gave me a glimmer of hope.

In another instance last week, Saxby Chambliss (R, GA), fired a staffer who wrote “all faggots must die” in the comment section of a blog. Chambliss even went as far to call the blogger to apologize. However Chambliss supports the DADT policy.

While these glimmers of decency and responsibility in the GOP give me hope that LGBT rights will soon become a civil rights issue that both parties support, it raises a moral question. Chambliss may have apologized for the bigoted comment, however he supports DADT. Policies such as DADT encourage hiding and being shameful about one’s sexual orientation. If you ask me there is a direct correlation between the fact that our government treats sexuality as something which is tolerated but not accepted, and the absurdly high suicide rate amongst gay teens. This could be blamed on the media or religion, but the fact of the matter is that government inaction on this civil rights issue is the root of the homophobic poison that is pervasive in our country. Because it’s acceptable for the government to turn a blind eye to homosexuality, it must be ok for police to turn a blind eye to gay beating or a teacher ignoring the pleas of a bullied teen.

I appreciate Chambliss’ apology, but the fact of the matter is that the society created by legislation such as DADT is what’s leading to people saying things like “all faggots must die.” If he was truly sorry that his staffer had posted a discriminatory comment, wouldn’t he be sorry about discriminatory policies such as DADT?

Our society as a whole is at a turning point. We cannot allow kids to keep killing themselves because they are being bullied for something that they can’t even help. Some claim parents need to do more, teachers need to do more, churches need to do more, the media needs to watch how it uses terms such as ‘gay’. While all these are true, especially keeping kids from bullying other kids, the fact is that government intervention is effective at changing our society for the better (i.e. Civil Rights Act of 1964). Passing legislation to end discrimination amongst adults will almost inevitably lead to less discrimination amongst kids, and we have to do what we can to stop these tragic suicides.

1 comment:

Funniest Girl said...

First off gay bullying is really bad,, totally not acceptable, and can lead to depression suicide. However, people are assuming that Tyler Clementi killed himself not because of bullying but because he was put out of the closet before he was ready. I think the roommate was just being an insensitive, invasive jerk who go behind a roommates back and tape them gay or not. For you to do that you are just an overall jerk.