“It Gets Better”: We need to make it better now!

“It Gets Better”: We need to make it better now! April 26, 2015

4237617_1429396276.355Recently, Indiana’s Republican legislature was forced to backtrack and amend the “Right to Discriminate” law, which had implicitly legitimized discrimination against LGBTs by Indiana businesses.  As a result, I was feeling optimistic.  The arc of history seemed to be bending more sharply in favor of LGBT rights.  In response to my phone call, I received a form email from my Indiana Representative claiming that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act “was never meant to deprive any individual of their rights” and that she is “vehemently against discrimination”.  Now, I don’t buy this transparent, post-hoc rationalization for a second.  But I am pleased to see my Republican State Representative at least paying lip service to the principle of equal treatment under the law.  It says something about what is becoming “the new normal“.  I’d be happier if here were no bigots, but I’ll settle for a society where bigots don’t feel comfortable admitting (much less legislating) their bigotry.  And so, at the beginning of April, I was feeling pretty positive about the state of affairs.

Click here for data on LGBT teen suicide rates

Then last week, a 16 year-old girl in my son’s high school band committed suicide.  She was lesbian.  I’m not close enough to the situation to know for certain that her sexual orientation played a role in her suicide.  But I can only imagine what being an openly lesbian teen in a conservative Indiana community must be like.  The “Anti-Gay Day” organized by Pennsylvania high school students recently might give us an idea of what LGBT teens must face.  Even if they don’t face overt bullying or harassment at school or condemnation at home, the added pressure of living as an openly LGBT in a heteronormative and homophobic culture, on top of the typical stresses of adolescence, explains why LGBT teens are at a higher risk for suicide attempts.  A quick search found three trans teens whose suicides have been linked to their gender identity, just this year — at least one of whom had suffered years of bullying.  I’m sure there are more.

We are not doing enough and we are not moving fast enough to save these kids.  The suicide of my son’s classmate has brought this home to me.  We need to protect our children.  We need more proactive about creating safe and loving environments for our LGBT kids, at home, at school, at church, and in the community.

Here are some resources for getting involved:

Let’s make it better for our kids now!

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