Gay Teen Suicides

My heart is breaking. We’re up to 5 gay children who killed themselves this month alone due to bullying.  Sinclair Sexsmith just updated her Sugarbutch Chronicles blog.

Dan Savage created a You Tube Channel called the It Gets Better Project when the first boy’s death was reported in the news. He started the channel because a commenter on his column had said he wished he had just 5 minutes with the boy, he would have told him it gets better. Dan created the video channel so adults could tell their stories for teenagers to hear, all with the message of yes you may be in Hell right now, but it gets better. Another You Tube Channel called Schools: We Give A Damn has appeared. The Give a Damn Campaign is a project of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund. Which is designed as a resource page for straight people who want to be allies to the LGBTQ communities.

As a mom of two sons, I have consciously worked to normalize homosexuality, bi-sexuality and transsexuality in my home. I’ve blogged about it here. And I have received more than a few raised eyebrows at how I speak to my children about homosexuality. I have many straight friends who have no problem with homosexuality themselves, but get all squeamish with the idea of talking to their kids about it. Even some of my gay friends have been surprised when I was so upfront with the boys about their sexual orientation.

These have been my thoughts since the beginning: what if my sons are gay? I want them to know that I love them. End of story. Next thought, I don’t want to raise homophobic assholes that think it’s ok to pick on the ‘gay’ kid. Nope. I do not want to raise bigots. I don’t. I refuse to. If they grow up and turn out to be homophobic, I will be devastated. But it will not happen under my roof. I am responsible for my sons’ behavior. Being homophobic is not anymore acceptable than being racist or misogynist. Don’t let me catch my sons saying something is ‘gay’ in a derogatory tone.

It was a lot easier when they were little. When they each hit second grade, it got a lot harder. And we live in the Bay Area! I made it clear to the boys and to their friends and to their friends’ parents that homophobic slurs were not permitted. Ever. And I’ve stuck to it. The boys are 9 and 10 now and though it does come up usually through the actions of their friends, my boys aren’t bullies. They don’t speak derogatorily about gay people. They tell me when someone does, and they are just beginning to feel secure enough to tell their friends to shut the hell up. That makes me proud.

But 5 kids in one month? Homophobia is a social disease. It’s real. It’s deadly and it’s 100% preventable. Talk to your kids about the spectrum of sexual orientation. It’s ok if you’re a little uncomfortable, it’s ok if they are a little uncomfortable. Go even further: support LGBTQ inclusion in your kids sex ed curriculum.

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