There’s a heartbreaking story in Rolling Stone by Sabrina Rubin Erdely about anti-gay bullying, the resulting suicides, the teachers who didn’t (or, arguably, couldn’t) do anything about it, the district administrators who sat back and watched it happen, and the Christian groups who honestly believe they bear no responsibility whatsoever for what happened.
You might want some tissues…
“This isn’t something you kid about, Brittany,” her mom scolded, snatching the kitchen cordless and taking it down the hall to call the Johnsons. A minute later she returned, her face a mask of shock and terror. “Honey, I’m so sorry. We’re too late,” she said tonelessly as Brittany’s knees buckled; 13-year-old Sam had climbed into the bathtub after school and shot herself in the mouth with her own hunting rifle. No one at school had seen her suicide coming.
No one saw the rest of them coming, either.
With the adults thus distracted by endless policy discussions, the entire district became a place of dread for students. Every time a loudspeaker crackled in class, kids braced themselves for the feared preamble, “We’ve had a tragic loss.” Students spoke in hushed tones; some wept openly in the halls. “It had that feeling of a horror movie – everyone was talking about death,” says one 16-year-old student who broke down at Anoka High School one day and was carted off to a psychiatric hospital for suicidal ideation. Over the course of the 2010-2011 school year, 700 students were evaluated for serious mental-health issues, including hospitalizations for depression and suicide attempts…
It’s a tragic story, made worse by the fact that the people who could’ve done something for these kids were forced to remain silent (or, more euphemistically, “neutral”) when it came to the issue of homosexuality.
Even if you’re an anti-gay Christian “family” group, there’s a way to respond to an article like this.
You start by saying that the losses were tragic. That your heart goes out to the families of those children who felt there was no other option. That, despite your disagreements, every life is precious. That while you firmly oppose “promoting” homosexuality, there’s a difference between a clash of ideas and actual harassment.
I’m not saying I would accept that statement even if a Christian group made it, but at least it’d show an inkling of compassion…
So how did the Illinois Family Institute — a Christian group in the same vein as the Minnesota Family Council mentioned in the article — respond to the piece?
Well, let’s just say Laurie Higgins didn’t take my advice:
These activists pretend their ultimate goal is to end bullying, but only the naïve or ignorant believe that whopper. The truth is that they are exploiting legitimate anti-bullying sentiment in order to implement their politicized anti-bullying programs, all in the service of achieving their ultimate goal: the eradication of conservative moral beliefs about homosexuality.
If they can’t achieve that doctrinaire goal, they will reluctantly settle for bullying conservatives into silence. They will accept an America in which it is politically, legally, or socially impossible for conservatives to express the moral beliefs homosexual activists can’t eradicate, leaving homosexuals and their allies free to gambol about the public square with all their First Amendment rights intact.
Clearly, Erdely is not concerned with ending teen suicide. Her mission, pursued with messianic fervor, is to humiliate conservatives into submission by any unethical means necessary. Christians in Minnesota and other school districts around the country must not cower in fear.
Right. Because the Christian groups are the real victims here… How *dare* those liberals try to take away our right to tell gay people how worthless they are and why they need to be fixed? Why can’t they just have more tolerance for intolerance?
Higgins also spends time rationalizing all the awful events mentioned in the article. As if everything is negated because a few details weren’t included. This one may be the most disturbing:
Not once did Erdely suggest that the bullies were Evangelicals or motivated by Evangelical beliefs about homosexuality, which, by the way, are simply orthodox Christian beliefs widely held by the finest contemporary Protestant and Catholic theologians as well virtually all theologians in the history of Christendom until the late 20th Century.
Yeah! There’s no proof Christians were the bullies! Even though the “finest” Christian theologians of our time totally agree with the bullies’ beliefs…
Incidentally, the Rolling Stone article mentions a Naperville, Illinois high school. It happens to be the one I work at… Despite the context given in the piece, I feel like we provide a safe climate for LGBTQ students. If there was ever a problem in our school like the one at Anoka High School, I have no doubt many teachers and administrators would come to the defense of the victims and not the bullies. I know I would.
Too bad the “compassionate” Christian groups can’t do the same thing.