Topic: Crap I Don't Understand
So, most of us can probably say that they have been bullied or have bullied someone else over the course of their lives. I know I've done both and I'm not very proud of the latter. That being said, a friend of mine asked me recently why the bullying of LGBT kids was so much worse - aren't we supposed to learn how to deal with bullying in school so that we can grow up and stand up for ourselves later on in life?
Well, the answer is yes and no - certainly with the technology we have today, bullying of any kind has hit an all time high and is much more severe than when I was in school. No longer is your embarrassment short-lived and perhaps contained within a small group, but now can be spread quickly and live on permanently within cyberspace. You can be bullied for anything and everything that might make you different. Being poor, being fat and even the age-old wearing glasses. Those things can be very hurtful, but most likely, the bullying is very centralized and coming from one area. For the most part, you don't get the sense from your teachers, parents, churches and sometimes even friends that being poor, being fat or wearing glasses is a horrible thing. Those people that aren't targeting you specifically for bullying are probably generally supportive of you. The same isn't the case for LGBT youth. As they are going through a process of realizing who they are and that they might differ from what society considers the 'norm,' they see things. They see numerous expressions of negative attitudes towards and about people who are gay. The press reports another hate crime against gays; a trusted politician says that he doesn't want children brainwashed that homosexuality is a valid life option; you may hear in your church that if you are gay, you are going to hell; your parents make off-handed comments about how gay-teen suicide is awful, but boy are they glad that their children are 'normal.' So the child who is trying to figure out this part of him or herself believes that there is something wrong with them. Something they know they can never change, and now they have no one they feel they can talk to about these feelings.
Then comes the school bullying, on top of everything else that this child has seen regarding how awful an inherent part of who he or she is. That's when the issue becomes a societal one. These children aren't being bullied simply by other children, they are being bullied by all of us and that's what makes it different. I know that this won't change overnight, but if you know any children, whether you think they are gay or not, please let them know that it's ok to talk to you about anything and perhaps we should all think twice about some of the off-handed comments we make about LGBT people when there are children around. Please.