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.