Very Frustrated with Homophobia Today
by, 10-20-2010 at 04:16 PM (621 Views)
So I teach high school math, currently at a rural high school in NC. Today, some students were wearing purple to raise awareness of anti-gay bullying.
There were a few male students who are pretty much your stereotypical conservative, close-minded rednecks. They started asking some of the students what the purple meant, and then one asked me if I "was in support of gays".
Because I like to stay on track in class and know that this type of subject has a tendency to cause a lot of friction, I gave my usual type answer: I said that I give full support in treating gay people with as much respect as anyone else. Because I was a little heated, I also added that you can believe whatever you want, and that you don't have to approve of their lifestyle, but if you can't at least give them the same respect that you would any other person, then there's something wrong with you.
So later on in class, he and another student were talking about the suicides, and the other student said something like "You know, everyone gets picked on...if being picked on because they're gay is enough to make someone kill themself, then they're pretty weak-minded anyway." Usually I ignore this kind of thing, but this time I just couldn't help it.
Knowing that it would be pointless to even try to describe what it's like for a gay person to go through this, I instead tried to focus on the notion of suicide. I said to them, "If someone you cared about did it, then you wouldn't say that."
So the first redneck kid goes "Well, I don't know anyone who's gay!" I say "I mean anyone who would commit suicide."
And he goes "I do know someone who did, and it doesn't bother me that they decided to do it."
I asked "Did you care about the person?"
He said "Yeah, I cared about them...but it was their choice to do it, and that doesn't bother me."
And I said "Well, your definition of love must be very different than mine. If someone I love were to die for any reason, I would be very upset by it and would have wanted to do everything I could have to prevented it, no matter the reason."
The kids didn't talk much for the next 15 minutes.
But the whole thing really, really bothered me. To think that someone could be so homophobic, and so stuck in their ways, that they would see no problem with bullying leading to the suicide of someone, and to view the whole thing as a plea for attention, really, really gets me heated. It really depresses me. To put your own feelings of discomfort over the life of someone else. And to even act like someone you care about dying doesn't matter to you.
To be honest, I think he was doing the usual teenage male thing of not wanting to admit he was wrong, because I think I got across my point. I think he just didn't want to admit that if someone he truly cared about died that it really would have been hurtful to him. But still...to have so much pride, and to be so set in his homophobia that he can't even see how someone committing suicide over the idea of being bullied for being gay..to not even be able to think how that person must have felt or how their parents must have felt...it truly saddens me.
It's bad enough that these tragedies are happening. It's even worse when people see no reason to change the behavior that leads to it, especially when there's no good reason for bullying in the first place.
I thought I had gotten desensitized to all of the negativity that I see in the world. Today showed me that I'm not , at least not when it's right in front of my face. And I just find the whole thing incredibly sad.