>While I will never be as articulate about this as some of my other blogging friends, I can’t keep from writing any longer.
In the past few weeks, six suicides have made the news. All six of the people who took their own lives had a few things in common: They were young white men who happen to be gay. They also were the victims of harassment and bullying.
Along with young women whose photos have been passed along via sexting, young people whose bodies are not the desired size or shape, and others who don’t enjoy the same activities, speak the right language or wear the right clothes… they were driven by peer manipulation to believe they would be better off dead than alive.
We don’t know how many other young people died at their own hands in the past 2 months because that isn’t being reported. We don’t know how many of the young people who commit suicide each year are also suffering from depression or other mental health afflictions. Parents and care givers need to be alert and responsive to those danger signals.
Just 9 months ago, we almost lost our own son. He had put up with the bullying for 3 years, and the constant stress started a downward spiral of depression. He’s stable now, but I know just how fragile that teen heart can be. And how hard on each other high schoolers can be. I hate that part of the afternoon when I wait for him to get home from school and let me know how things are. I wonder if this will be the day that he is beaten instead of just called names. I worry that he won’t come home or call. And I’m not much of a worrier.
There are things that we can do to protect all children, but especially those who are most vulnerable, when they are at school. We must work with, push, prod and even demand that schools stop allowing kids to destroy other kids. We must not allow our debates about whether homosexuality is a sin or not to keep us from banding together to stop the emotional and physical abuse young people experience.
The thing is, even if you are praying for LGBTQ kids to change and become S (straight), that isn’t going to happen after they’ve put a gun to their heads, cut themselves, hanged themselves or taken a full bottle of pills. Dead children are beyond saving, curing or loving.
And if you believe that young people are beloved of God, straight or queer, you must not let fear of being “out” as an ally keep you from speaking up, reaching out and making this stop.
- Talk to your school officials. Find out if there is a no-bullying policy. If there’s not, ask why. Work with others in your community to see that changed.
- Talk to your faith community. Find out how they respond to young people who are hurting, who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender, who say that someone else is picking on them. Do the leaders know what resources are available? Do they know what it looks like when someone is experiencing abuse or depression?
- Talk to the children and young people you love. Let them know that you care about them at the deepest core level. Remind them that they are loved, not because of anything they do or say to earn it, but because they are precious members of the human family.
- Support some of the amazing groups that provide help for young people who feel like they can’t go on and spread the word about them: www.projectlifevest.org/ http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
- Let teen victims of any sort of violence or threat know that they can find out their rights here: http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbID=DB_YouthInitiative158