Another Tragedy

Forgive me, words are failing me this morning.  I have just seen in my Twitter feed and on Facebook yet another article chronicling the senseless death of yet another one of our young people.  You can read about the tragic suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer here and here.  Pay particular attention to the first two comments on the Buffalo News site.  Neither shows much compassion for the victim, only the same tired arguments about “Christian values” being missing from our schools.

I am torn up over this.  Why?  Because I know that my own people—my fellow Christians—have a hand in these deaths.  You may be wondering how I arrived at that conclusion.  You may be thinking, “But I never bullied a gay kid.”  Perhaps not.  But by the attitudes and beliefs regarding homosexuality perpetuated by many conservative evangelicals, the church has indeed contributed.

Week after week, many Christians perpetuate myths about GLBT people.  These include that “most” were sexually abused as young children, that their “issues” come from having an absent/weak father and overbearing mother, that they weren’t instructed as children to be “real” men or women, that they are promoting vile, destructive, and perverted lifestyles and activities, and that they are “abominations.”  If you think that Westboro Baptist’s “God Hates F*gs” sign-waving is an isolated thing, try again.  While most Christians would see that behavior as over-the-top, the sentiment isn’t unusual.

Day after day, Christians sit at work, at home, and in churches failing to do anything to stem the tide.  By our silence, we allow the bullying to continue.  We sit by and shake our heads at how kids have “become like animals” because we “teach them they came from monkeys.”  But we do nothing to protect these youths who are desperate for acceptance and love.

My charge to you today is this: Do something!  Do not sit back and watch this happen even one more time.  Create safe space.  Teach your children that no matter what your religious beliefs, it is not okay to harass another person.  Be the love someone needs today.  Help your children learn to stand up for kids who are being tormented at school.  Do it yourself—refuse to listen to the misguided teaching at church about the origins of homosexuality.

Please, please listen and love your kids.  Support them.  Find it in your heart to lay aside your personal feelings.  Jamey’s parents loved and supported him, yet he still took his own life.  Imagine the pain of the kids whose parents could not accept having a gay child.  Hear your children when they tell you that they are being bullied and demand that something be done to stop it.

Not even one more person should have to die to escape the pain.

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6 thoughts on “Another Tragedy

  1. I just heard about this, too. The report I read said the kid had a blog in which he wrote constantly about being bullied.

    My question: where were his parents? We monitor our child’s online activities. Facebook, formspring, myspace… heck, I’ve even subscribed to all of her youtube subscriptions because I want to see what she thinks is valuable enough to subscribe to. And while we miss things, no doubt, we have a sense of what her online life is like.

    She used to blog, and I made sure to read it.

    Obviously you can’t be 100% tuned in to what your teenager is up to, but were his parents completely in the dark? I only see my step-daugther maybe 4 hours a week. If that. And I can still tell when something’s bothering her. And I (horror!) pry and ask her questions and try to help her.

    I’m not saying it’s Jayme’s parent’s fault. I’m just baffled that, from what I’ve read, they were clueless.

    Then again, maybe I’m more tuned in to my kid because I survived my suicide attempt and never want her to go through that kind of experience.

    • One of the reports said his parents had tried to work on it with his school. They seemed to have been under the impression he was handling things pretty well. I suppose maybe they were not reading his blog? I don’t know. Both of my kids have computers (long story). But they are laptops and the kids cannot ever use them anywhere that we can’t see. All computer stuff is in the main living space so we know what they’re doing. J has a blog, password protected and by subscription only (of course, all he ever does is type stuff like “blah blah blah” on it). Obviously he is young, so that won’t change any time soon. But what I hope we are doing is setting up a system by which we can keep an eye on things.

      I doubt that boy’s parents were completely in the dark. But I don’t think they believed it was as bad as it was.

      I survived once too, and to my knowledge, my mother never knew (or just didn’t tell me). My father to this day does not know. Then again, I didn’t blog about it, either.

      • I’m sorry to hear about your attempt. 😦
        Since I was found and dragged to an ER and then put in a psych ward for 72 hours, it was hard to hide from the people in my life!

        My mom knew I had issues as a teen. She never handled me properly. I don’t think they teach parents how to handle a suicidal kid.

        hugs to you

        • It was back in college, when my parents split up. My dad made hash of his finances, lost their house, and dumped my mother–all in about a 2-year span. I was left virtually homeless, and it’s not like family was coming out of the woodwork to offer me help. Thankfully, a lot of very caring friends stepped in. I recovered, but it took a long time to be emotionally stable. I think it’s why I don’t tend to react strongly to serious events. I had actually trained myself not to feel much of anything. When I finally let myself feel, it was far too overwhelming. I also didn’t believe that I had anyone who could help, seeing as my entire support system consisted of other college students, all dealing with their own issues. Naturally, I was wrong, but when I was in that state, I wasn’t exactly Ms. Rational. And of course, my parents didn’t know because I didn’t tell them. I was too angry with my father, and Mom was coping with her own stress.

          I hate seeing anyone believe that life is so terrible that it isn’t worth living, but I understand that in that moment, it seems pretty hopeless.

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