Wednesday, October 8, 2008

High School Homophobia

I’ve submitted a letter to the editor of “The Christian Century” in response to an article, called “Relationship Smarts,’’ in the September 9th issue. The author, Amy Frykholm, notes that at least one student in a high school class about relationships, called “Connections,” had difficulty in seeing marriage and family as applying to his life, but she doesn’t suggest possible reasons for this. I write in my letter that one reason why he might be reluctant to participate in the class exercise in which the students can “marry” someone of the same sex is that he is gay. Perhaps he feels that such a “marriage” would reflect his true desire too accurately for all to see, and he might be unwilling to expose himself to possible homophobia if he were thought to be gay.
I assumed that high school homophobia was so well recognized that it was self-evident. Be that as it may, as reported in today’s “New York Times,” evidence for homophobia among teenagers is now available from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or Glsen (pronounced glisten). (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/business/media/08adco.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin)
Glsen is introducing a public-service TV ad campaign to call attention to the derogatory and hurtful nature of the common phrase “That’s so gay” as a putdown. The theme of the campaign: “When you say, ‘That’s so gay,’ do you realize what you say? Knock it off” points to the harm such comments can cause and urges people to become aware of the possible effects of their language. This is enforced by the name of the website for the campaign: http://www.thinkb4youspeak.com.
But what harm can such comments cause? To answer that question, the introduction of the campaign will be accompanied by Glsen’s release of the 2007 edition of an annual report, the “National School Climate Survey.” The survey will report that 9 in 10 teenagers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender said they were verbally harassed during the last school year. Almost half said they were also physically harassed because of their sexual orientation.
So evidence is available that high school homophobia exists and that it can cause real harm. It’s no wonder that gay students may be reluctant to come out. They can be verbally and physically abused by fellow students and maybe even teachers. I hope that Glsen’s campaign will reduce the abuse and help gay students to be open about their sexual orientation.

3 comments:

Franklyn said...

I am not suprised that Ms Frykholm of the Christian Century failed to mention that the student might be Gay. It probably never occured to her and, if it did, was quickly repressed. It is much easier for "Liberal" Christians to worry about Darfur or Palestine or some equally distant problem rather than the plight of Gays, including those in their own homes. And cleaner! That is just one of the things wrong with "Liberal" Christians. At least the conservative Christians are more honest. They just say they hate us and we are going to burn in hell eternally. Now that is real Christian charity.

Pete M said...

Franklyn,
Thanks for your comment. Yes, heterosexuals often forget that there are homosexuals. One of the jobs of gay people is to remind them that "we're here, and we're queer!"

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