Reminder: Tell Gay Kids That It’s Okay To Be Gay

Reminder: Tell Gay Kids That It’s Okay To Be Gay

There are two articles in the New York Times today about about how the Anoka-Hennepin school district is dealing, or rather, not dealing, with homosexuality. The district, as made clear in the first paragraph of one of the articles, is largely controlled by Michele Bachmann, though I think that’s more of a tangential aside than damning evidence that Bachmann is bad for the gays, though she certainly is!

At the forefront of the issue is this: kids have killed themselves because they were bullied for being gay. And many more kids are likely being bullied for being gay but have not killed themselves, instead existing in public shame and developing complexes that may unravel in unfortunate ways once they get beyond their Anoka hell. I was fortunate enough to go to a high school that I would call “gay friendly.” Sure, there were those with protruding foreheads calling inanimate objects “fag” or “gay” and every once in a while a particularly flamboyant boy might have been talked about behind his back, but I rarely felt threatened for being who I was.

That’s important. There’s a pretty clear reason why, in my opinion. The teachers. Several teachers wore rainbow stickers on their badges, and you just knew from the stickers that these people were down, in one way or another, and that they understood that gay people actually existed and that being gay was no big deal. To them, gay people were real, and being gay was okay. The travesty of the Anoka-Hennepin district is that teachers can’t say that being gay is okay because they’ve adopted a policy of “neutrality,” which, in reality, is a policy of hate. So while young kids are being brutalized for something they can’t control, not even the adults–the people who are supposed to be the voices of reason, experience and eduation–are allowed to tell their students that being who they are is okay. What kind of fucked up policy is that? Say you have a kid who gets beat up for being flamboyant, or a kid who is pissed on because he wears sparkly belts, like what happened to one of the kids in the articles. In all likelihood the kid isn’t even out of the closet yet, maybe the kid isn’t even sure who they are, and you have students beating him or her up, calling them fag or dyke, and then when it comes time for an adult to step in and be reasonable, they can’t even tell the student that everything is going to be okay. It’s going to be okay–you are who you are. No one is saying this to these kids.

Obviously, some people don’t believe that being gay is okay. But for a person in the early stages of their life and education, having an adult tell them that it’s okay to be whatever it is they are is invaluable. No kid, gay or straight, should be left to think that what they’re feeling is wrong. A policy of “neutrality” means that the kids who are spreading the hate are just as right as the people who are trying to stop it. That’s fucked up.

Moreover, why does this need to be written? Who hasn’t received the memo?

Jason Zabel