Saturday, April 25, 2009

Why Words Matter: Two LIttle Boys

From the NY Times today:
On April 6, just before dinner, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a Massachusetts boy who had endured relentless homophobic taunts at school, wrapped an extension cord around his tiny neck and hanged himself. He was only 11 years old. His mother had to cut him down.

On April 16, just after school, Jaheem Herrera, a Georgia boy who had also endured relentless homophobic taunts at school, wrapped a fabric belt around his tiny neck and hanged himself as well. He too was only 11 years old. His 10-year-old sister found him.....

The sad ends to their short lives shine a harsh light on the insidious scourge of the homophobic bullying of children.....

....In short, homophobic bullying is pervasive. It disproportionately affects black and Hispanic kids. A new study suggests an apparent link between bullying and suicide. To wit, black and Hispanic adults who are gay reported higher “serious suicide attempts” than their white counterparts, most of those attempts taking place when they were young.
Of course, these boys were too young to even know if they were gay. No matter. The words they heard were awful enough.

The data in this piece shows that taunting kids for being gay accounts for >30% of bullying (whether or not the victim is gay). Religion? only 8%. (And I'm betting most of that 8% isn't kids who espouse the majority Christian faith....just a hunch.).

What I find striking in the video above is that the self-proclaimed "Christians" find even a day of silence where GLBT supporters don't say anything to be an attack on THEM. Say what?

The next time some conservative rages on about how "Christians" are attacked in this country, remember who it is who uses the language of GLBT bias and hatred against even children. Because where do kids learn their language? They learn it from us.

When we speak, children will listen.

5 comments:

Fred Schwartz said...

As an elementary school principal your post touches me so very deeply. Right now, the very worst thing one student can say to another is "your gay".

We have used Don't Laugh At Me as a springboard for working with all bullying but this in particular. It has slowed it down but not stopped it. Why, because it is heard in the home! The last vestige of blind and ignorant hatred is this issue. It MUST be stopped. The Episcopal Church could lead in this if they were to get of the political and back on to the issue of Christianity. It is incredible have everyone feels bad about these two children but no one will do anything! So, we atr school continue our quest for love and care of ALL!

IT said...

Thanks Fred. I posted this over at Daily Kos and streetprophets too.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Awareness helps. This is nothing new for anyone who is LGBT...Christian or not...I would also add that I knew I was Gay (even if I didn´t know the name) long before I was age 11...I was terrified of being humiliated, taunted (all the while some of the loudest critics of ¨queers¨ were trying to have sex with me...I wouldn´t do it with these creeps...I even knew then there was something wrong with the doublestandard) in public and I was especially afraid my parents would know...I didn´t want such nice and loving people to be embarrasssed about me...my parents were very fine people and certainly not religious zealots or rarely mentioned anything regarding sexual stuff except to avoid men with candybars that may want my sister and I to get into cars, etc....I had shame (I wonder where I caught it?).

David said...

The data in this piece shows that taunting kids for being gay accounts for >30% of bullyingWhile I agree that it's unlikely that the 8% of bullying which is about religion is aimed primarily at Christians, I'd be willing to bet serious money that a lot of "Christians" are among the 30% who're haranguing others about being "gay."

God in Heaven this makes me sad. My son is just 12 yrs old...

IT said...

Children will listen....but no one is alone.