Monday, October 24, 2011

It Doesn't Always Get Better

Suicide is the second most common cause of death in the teenage population. Suicide rates are significantly higher among gay teenagers, most of whom are subject to relentless bullying. The 'It Gets Better Project', a worldwide campaign aimed at decreasing the rate of gay teen suicide, while applaudable, does little to address the immediate concerns of tormented teenagers and, in many cases, is just plain wrong. The fact is: it doesn't always get better.

I came across two articles in the news today. One was about an openly gay man in Scotland who was tied to a lamppost, beaten, and burned alive. It clearly didn't get better for him. The other story was about a gay Ontario couple who were asked to leave a Tim Hortons coffee shop because other customers were offended when one of the two women wrapped her arms around the other's waist, then proceeded to give her a kiss on the cheek. Doesn't really seem that it's getting better for this couple, either.

In Ottawa, Jamie Hubley, aged 15 and openly gay, recently took his own life. Shortly before committing suicide, Jamie wrote on his blog, "I don't want to wait three more years, this hurts too much. How do you even know it will get better. It's not." Jamie hit the nail right on the head. How could he possibly believe it would get better when, so often, it doesn't?

Instead of urging these kids to simply wait it out, something needs to be done to immediately address the very valid concerns of these abused children. Ideally, adults would begin by actually acting like adults and providing children with proper examples to follow. We all know that isn't going to happen, though. Bigots breed bigots. So the rest of us need to step up and demand that our children, whether it's because of their sexuality, race, religion, size, whatever, are not subject to bullying.

Parents of bullied children frequently attempt to solve the problem by putting their children in a different school, or switching to a private school. Some even end up homeschooling, after realizing that the school system isn't willing to put in the effort required to solve this problem. These families shouldn't have to jump through hoops. Instead, bullies should be removed from schools. It should be up to the parents of bullies to find and pay for alternative schooling. If parents were forced to foot the bill for sending their intolerant offspring off to Bozo's Backward School of Bullying and Bigotry, maybe they'd be a bit more inclined to properly parent their children.

No matter what, though, bullying in schools isn't going anywhere until we stop accepting bullying in the adult world. We're represented in Ottawa by a majority government that hasn't supported a single gay rights issue, and that has cut funding to gay pride events nationwide. Poor John Baird can't even come out of the closet, lest he incur the wrath of his party and its followers. And when Conservative MPs in the House of Commons feel its appropriate to mock the Opposition for being "impotent" to stand in the way of their poor decisions, it's clear that bullying is a problem from the top straight down to the bottom.

1 comment:

Chad Roberts said...

UPDATE: Rick Mercer's Rant this week was on this very subject. Dare I say, "great minds think alike"? Check it out at