It Gets Better, or Does It?

I read an article this week about another teenager that committed suicide after being bullied at school. Ironically, this particular teenager had recorded one of the viral YouTube videos for the It Gets Better campaign. The death of this teenager is an example of the fundamental failure of our society to take care of our children. And yes, I used the word death. I refuse to soften this writing with the politically correct word “teenage suicide”. Another child is dead. His family and friends had to attend his funeral, and watch his burial. His parents mourn for his soul today. It’s not easy, it’s not pretty, and my hearts aches for all involved. I don’t know how I as a parent could ever survive the loss of a child.

We, society as a whole, are responsible for this child’s death, and it’s time we take responsibility. This is not a political issue requiring government involvement. This is not a religious issue requiring church involvement. This is a fundamental failure of society to take care of its children. And no, I am not blaming the parents of the teenager who died; I am blaming the adults who allowed this to happen and, directly or indirectly, instigated the bullying.

Everyday our attention is drawn to prejudice by the media. We hear stories of religious leaders judging and condemning gays and lesbians. We hear speeches of politicians and journalists expressing their narrow-minded opinions of how gay marriage will ruin society. We see videos in the news of people protesting the “gay lifestyle,” whatever that is. Our children are exposed to this hate every day of their lives. And to all the parents out there, ask yourself honestly: How much hate is your child hearing in their own home? Are you cheering on the politicians while your child listens? Do you allow your church leaders to tell your children they were born a sinner and aren’t worthy of God’s love, and let them fill your child’s mind with hate and lower their self-esteem? If we as adults are spreading hate and prejudice in front of our children, how exactly to we expect to raise loving adults?

Parents stop and think before you speak! Are you raising a child that will be filled with hate? Every time you open your mouth and spew hate and prejudice, you are telling our children that there are people in this world unworthy of love with no right to a happy life. Every time you watch a TV story in front of your child about a mob attacking gays, or any group of people, you are sending a message to your child that this behavior is acceptable. Every time some macho dad mouths off about whipping some pansy’s ass, he is telling his teenage son that it is OK to physically attack another teenager just because they are gay or different. You are sending a message that it is OK to kill in the name of hate. Think about this: Are you prepared to loose your own child to imprisonment because they killed another teenager? How are you going to respond when you have to walk into a courtroom and face the parents of the teenager that your child killed, all in the name of the hate you said was justified?

In the center of this discussion is the teenager that IS gay. Do you know whether or not your teenager is gay? He or she may be and just hasn’t told you yet. It is a realistic possibility and every parent needs to acknowledge this. When you are spewing hate and prejudice in front of a child that hasn’t come out of the proverbial closet yet, what message are you sending to them? Think about it. Do you want the next funeral you attend to be that of your own child? Are you prepared to look at your child lying in a coffin just because your heart was filled with hate, and he or she knew they couldn’t discuss being gay with you? Parents are losing their children everyday, and no parent is immune.

And to our teachers and school leaders, it’s time to get your ass up and get involved. Did you think I wouldn’t address your involvement? You are the adults that are with these children most of the day. You see what is going on in the halls and your classrooms, and if you don’t you are just turning a blind eye. You probably aren’t responsible for the hate that exists these days, at least I hope you aren’t, but you also can’t deny its existence around you. You have an obligation to protect our children when they are in your care. You have an obligation as an adult, not just a teacher, to say STOP.

Creating an environment of hate can happen in many forms. A lady attempted to brag to me once that she was not prejudice, and had raised her teenage son to not be either. She told him she didn’t care who he loved, what religion or color they were, just please don’t bring home another boy. How many parents have said these or similar words to their child? What if this boy is gay, and was about to come out to his mother? She just told him it was unacceptable. How many subtle ways do we tell our children they are not free to love? Too many teenagers have already died because of stupid, prejudice, narrow-minded people. The hate and senseless suicides will only end when we all decide to enough is enough.

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