Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spirit Day

As has been widely reported, we have lost way too many youth lately to the fear and hatred of homophobia. It's an ugly side of human nature that I don't understand, and frankly, don't want to. Whatever excuse people hide behind to make the hatred of fellow humans acceptable is simply that, an excuse.

And it's time for adults to recognize that their reprehensible acceptance of such ugliness is at the heart of the blame.

How often have you heard slurs of a homophobic nature and stood up to it?

A few years ago, these two kids were talking outside of the apartment building's laundry room while I was in there and one of them used such a slur. I don't even remember what it was now, but I stopped in my tracks and said, "hey! That's not okay." The shame in that boy's face was clear. I didn't know him, didn't know his parents, didn't know where that came from, but even he knew he shouldn't have said it. They moved away from me, knowing that they weren't going to get away with such behavior in front of me.

Last year, Sylvia had a teacher that openly made a plea for students not to participate in the Day of Silence, where students take a vow of silence to support the LGBT community against hatred, bullying, and harassment. I emailed that teacher {edited to protect anonymity}:

...I think that this is an extremely important topic, and something I discussed with my daughter a long time ago. The decision is hers, but we are strong advocates for equal rights for everybody. While I wish it did not come to this, while I wish tolerance was something that came naturally to more people, please do not lose sight of the message of this day.

This message is about the forced silence that too many children are forced to take because they are different. It causes too many suicides every year. It causes too many destroyed lives.
It is entirely possible, if not probable, that students in these [classes] are struggling with this issue. It is unfortunately also possible that one or more of these students could end up a statistic one day.

So I hope that...this opportunity is not missed.
I did not hear back from that teacher, but I bcc'd Board of Education members and her Principal.

Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions. Yes, we have Free Speech in America, but I think that freedom comes with a great weight of responsibility: a responsibility to treat each other respectfully, even and especially when we disagree.  Our words and our actions do have consequences.

Let's think about the legacies we want to pass on, the values we want to role model, and just what we lose when we sacrifice equality for all. We are, unfortunately, seeing too much unravel because some have made it okay to be offensive, rude and mean to others. Lives are being lost. Mother and fathers are losing their children. Family and friends have been robbed of loved ones.

There is too much wrong already to endure this hatred, too. There are wars, famine, disease, bankruptcies, foreclosures, fraud, corruption. Why are we adding bullying and homophobia to the list? It makes no sense. It's hurtful, it's wrong, and it's shameful.

It does get better for many LGBT adults, but that's simply not good enough. As most of us may recall, being told that high school will end didn't always feel like it! So now, there's a project to make it better, with resources for both students and adults. Our humanity can and will win this. How long it takes is up to all of us.

This post is in honor of Spirit Day. We're wearing purple to honor those didn't believe they could beat homophobia.


Tara R. said...

I'm glad you let that teacher know how you felt about her reaction to the Day of Silence. Who knows, there may have been a child in her classroom struggling with this issue, and her response was just another rejection. It could have had devastating consequences.

We are losing too many young (and older) people. The hate needs to stop.

Danielle said...

I agree so strongly with you on this. Everyone has a right to be who they are with out fear, shame or criticism. Good for you!

K said...

In total agreemement here and I'm am wearing my purple today in support!!

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Brava! It's essential that those of us who support equal rights for EVERYONE speak out -- being tolerant in our daily lives just isn't doing enough unfortunately.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Brava! It's essential that those of us who support equal rights for EVERYONE speak out -- being tolerant in our daily lives just isn't doing enough unfortunately.

Being Me said...

Everyone has courage deep inside, question is what will bring it to the surface.