Gay Bullying And Its Underpinnings

This makes my stomach turn.

In the clip, which was filmed on a cell phone and then posted to Facebook, the attacker, who has not been named, can be seen waiting for the gay student, who wishes to remain anonymous, in a classroom.

Once the student arrives, the bully begins severely beating “the holy living crap out of him,” says his mother.

Even though the boy tried to get away and asked “Why are you doing this?” the attack continued.

WSYX reports the student received a possible concussion and a chipped tooth.

So why was the assailant doing it?

The student also says that the perpetrator wrote “Check out the definition of a faggot” on his Facebook page two days earlier.

Yup, that was his crime – loving the wrong people, and dammit, this thug was gonna beat some sense into him. This is why minorities need high school clubs – because this is what they face in the world and, frankly, they have fewer protections in place than adults. In another year if this same scenario had played out, the anti-gay psycho is in jail and the victim gets to take all his money (and probably a great deal of his future money) in a lawsuit.

Today, the aggressor gets to miss school for three days.

The attacker received three days suspension, but the mother of the gay student says that is not good enough and she is going to file charges.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Kids get bullied for being gay constantly (74% of all bullying victims are gay, with 85% of gay students reporting harassment). Can it be truly argued that this would be an issue without the hatred exploding from the pulpit painting gays as despicable?

It’s bad enough that these students suffer physical abuse and intimidation because other kids are taking what they hear from religious people about gays being evil as seriously as the adults mean it. It’s bad enough that these students face social ostracism that can stay with them psychologically the rest of their lives. It’s depressing when part of the silver lining is that most of those students will still have their lives with which to work out the damage. Emphasis on the word ‘most‘.

In recent weeks two students, Jamey Rodemeyer and Jamie Hubley, both committed suicide after being subjected to bullying because of their sexuality

Now here’s the kicker.

An anti-bullying bill is pending in Ohio’s legislature. Ohio House Bill 208 would add sexual orientation, gender identity, and other enumerated protections to Ohio’s anti-bullying law without changing the general prohibition against any bullying or harassment. Proponents of the bill are seeking testimony in the House Education Committee, according to Equality Ohio, but the bill has not been a priority of the committee.

It makes you wonder what life and death measure is a priority.

Several states have similar measures up (I know Missouri did while I was living there). These are measures for which only someone who has had their compassion carved from their soul could stand in opposition. So you can probably guess where the lone voice of opposition to these anti-bullying measures is coming from. If you guessed ‘followers of the most loving religion, the religion which is claimed by many of its followers to be the source of morality,’ then you guessed right.

Reminds me of the representative of Tea Party Nation, Rich Swier.

Anti-gay bullying is not bullying at all; in fact, it is “peer pressure and is healthy.” That’s according to Rich Swier, an activist with the Tea Party Nation.

Swier was responding to a report from a Florida group that showed that “77% of all bullying victims are picked on due to sexual orientation, gender identity, or the perception of either.” The report also pointed out that “LGBT youth are up to five times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts.”

I get asked why I can’t just live and let live with others and their beliefs. Why can’t I just realize that beliefs are a private matter and let it go?

Because god dammit, beliefs are not a private matter. They are the gatekeeper of our actions and the actions of our terrestrial teammates affect other people. This behavior would not exist if not for some words in an old book and an unforgivably large portion of our population who couldn’t critically think their way out of a paper bag. Our actions affect one another down here on earth, so what my neighbors believe is very much my business, and if those beliefs suck you can bet I’m going to insist my neighbors do better.

We are told that vocal critique of religion drives us apart while playing nice with religion is about co-existence. That view is an insipid falsehood. Reasons are how we connect to one another, and we cannot co-exist while people are given carte blanche to be unreasonable by the same standard of faith protected by the liberal (and equally unreasonable) Christians. We vocal atheists, the ones criticizing the cherished beliefs of others, are trying our asses off to remove the primary roadblock to social cohesion.

Some may respond that we have achieved harmony with a portion of the nation’s Christians who believe the same things we do. Yes, yes you have. And they do believe the same things as you about bullying, but they believe it through the same unreasonable methodology that keeps the beliefs driving our mutual enemies alive. They cannot help you unmake the dangerous conclusions of other Christians because they have no more reason to believe they’ve back the proper celestial horse.

We, on the other hand, can tell all the god-wallopers that they are wrong, and we can establish it with evidence and reason. We can do more than say ‘nuh uh! That’s not what god really wants!’. Without telling people they’re wrong, what weapons do you have to work with? The solution is not to encourage people who are being unreasonable in the approved ways, in the ways that most closely resemble rationality, and then hope all the less amicable believers decide to abandon what they believe to be god’s will (and thereby abandon god’s approval) in order to acquire the approval of groups they think are hell-bound. The solution is to tell people, all people, to treat their beliefs like they matter and to stop being unreasonable.

The results of religious thinking are dangerous. Sure, it doesn’t corrupt everybody. Neither does cancer. So what? Religious thinking corrupts enough that high school students die and suffer on account of it. Don’t you dare ask me to consider the beauty of faith when this is one of its results.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • fastlane

    Ive got nothing to add to this, so I’m going with a-fucking-men.

    I was bullied a fair amount in high school, simply for being relatively small and non-threatening. So what I experienced probably doesn’t scratch the surface of what these kids went through.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

    3 days suspension? For assault? Unfuckingbelievable.

    • Aliasalpha

      Better than some of the “punishments” I saw in school, half the time it was declared “a fair fight” and promptly ignored, even when one participant only had superficial injuries and the other had major bruises.

      Then again it was the early 80s and many of the judgements were made by the balding bag of excrement that actually caned me at one stage so it really came as no surprise. I was a happy primary school boy when that fucker left.

  • Lauren Ipsum

    Peer pressure is healthy?!

    I guarantee that SOB was never at the bottom of the totem pole in school. Never cried himself to sleep, never contemplated suicide, never wondered why nobody liked him, never complained that everyone was making fun of him, always popular, always had friends, always got what he wanted.

    Heartless bastard. Have a little compassion for the 99%.

  • Beaux

    I’m totes gay for you.


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