Parents & Caregivers Standing Up to Bigotry


Gay people are still quite expendable in our culture. Two years ago, Eric Mohat, a 17 year old, left school and returned home and shot himself because of anti-gay bullying. An 11 year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hung himself last week because of anti-gay bullying. How many more kids have to die before we make the connection that name-calling/tagging, etc. is bullying and that “gay” is not a pejorative – it’s an orientation. As a local, state and national communities we are not doing enough to stop hate speech and anti-queer rhetoric in its tracks. There is hope, though.

Recently, my sister and her husband had the foresightedness to question the Lansing Christian school about same-sex relationships. How do they handle same-sex affection from a pedagogical perspective? My mom’d offered to pop for pre-school tuition, but only if my niece went to this Christian school. Schools are the places where our communities, and the values they embrace, are seeded. When parents and caregivers have the chutzpah to challenge discriminatory values, children listen. And, children note omission. So when s/s relations are not recognized and acknowledged in schools, children learn that any perceived difference can be “gay”.

The person my sister and her husband spoke with said they certainly don’t condone s/s relationships and believe our relationships are wrong – but they love us anyway. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Vajdon and I would not be welcome, as a couple, in that school. Given Eric’s suicide for being bullied about sexual orientation, it’s high time adults, parents and caregivers take responsibility for what local schools (your own or others) are teaching. Whether you have a student attending or not.

This is a community issue and ought to be treated as such. Bigotry is bigotry. Teaching our children to hate themselves or others for what they are is nothing short of disgusting and ought to be prosecuted as a hate crime. Of course, Bush’s bully pulpit was used to exponentially explode hate crimes during his two terms. The pun is intended; I wish it were not.

It makes me very proud that my sister and brother-in-law have the courage to stand up to bigotry on behalf of their daughter, me, Vajdon and every other person. And I can’t think of a finer birthday present that they could offer their daughter. Because, really, what they are teaching is appreciation for difference (not tolerance and not acceptance). Instead of adding another bigot to the rosters, my sister and her hubby have put up their hand and said NO. If they, and parents like them, don’t say no, who will?


~ by Thom on April 10, 2009.

6 Responses to “Parents & Caregivers Standing Up to Bigotry”

  1. You are right…Its time to ask our schools guidance counselors AND teachers (believe me some teachers hear and see a lot but don’t always get involved)about bullying. Bullying starts at home. Teaching tolerance is as important as the”drug talk”..

  2. As I found out the hard way, not only do children need to feel safe at school, but teachers ALSO need to feel safe in order to teach.

    The HATE CRIME CLOSET needs to be torn down, destroyed, and burned to the ground.

  3. I totally agree with you on all of the above. The crime closet has to be torn down. Not only in schools but at home too. Children hear their parents make stupid comments on s/s relationships, race and religion and many many other things, kids are going to say and do the same. No child deserves to be bullied over something they have no control over. S/S feelings are as natural as O/S feelings. WHen will the world understand this.

  4. schools should open a club.for kids to talk about how being gay has been a part of there life.. maybe people can put it into consederation that life is hard enough. and people should treat everyone the same.. even if they are gay. its like making fun of someone because they are black.. or they have something that is an improfection.. everyone is there own pweson..

  5. My best friend was guy and he shot himself because of anti-gay bullying. He was 18 years old and just graduated from highschool. I think that we should try and stop it. We dont need to lose anymore loved ones.

    • Heather, my heart goes out to you. Even up here in Canada where we have it pretty darned good, I insist that we cannot stop agitating and educating as long as there is one queer who feels s/he doesn’t count, isn’t wanted or hopeless. Last fall, right here in Downtown Toronto, around the corner from our place, a young queer was beat to death w/ baseball bats by three young men. We have to do better. Thank you for writing. thom

      engaged consulting 416-603-4494 416-807-5260 (C) Notes on Arts Education American Refugee

      Thom’s novel The Drifts (Coach House Books, 2010) will be released in April. He will be the July 2010 Writer in Residence at Open Book Toronto. Become a fan at Facebook/The Drifts or follow at Twitter/ thomvernon

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