Thursday, March 28, 2013

For LBGTQ Kids: You Matter

With Prop 8 and DOMA before the U.S. Supreme Court this week, it seems gay marriage and equal rights are what everyone is talking about.

I want to talk about something related, but not about marriage equality.

I want to speak directly to any LBGTQ youth who might ever come across this blog.

You are a good person. You have value and are worthwhile. You deserve to have the life you want. You matter.

I know it probably makes no difference hearing that from someone you likely don't know. I don't even know if I have any LBGTQ readers, much less young ones. But maybe if I say it to the ether, someone will say it to one of them. Maybe it will be you. They need to hear it.

Every year, thousands of LBGTQ youth are kicked out of their homes. These kids are far more likely than their hetero counterparts to experience personal attacks of violence, prolonged periods of homelessness, and substance abuse. LBGTQ youth are a whopping 6 times more likely to commit suicide than hetero youth.

These statistics do not reflect some defect inherent in LBGTQ kids. They reflect a defect in our society. All of these problems stem from rejection of LBGTQ youth by their family, peers, and teachers. They are bullied, beaten, raped, and murdered for simply being who they are.

This is completely unacceptable.

If you have experienced these sorts of attacks, let me tell you now: you did not deserve it. Nothing about your gender, sexual orientation, dress, mannerisms, or lifestyle warrants attacks on your body, home, or safety. If someone has done this to you, they are a monster. Even if that someone was your parents, your friends, your coach, your pastor. Nothing you have ever done deserves that sort of abuse. There is no excuse for anyone to behave that way towards you.

You deserve to be treated with respect. You deserve to have a safe place to live. To keep a job. To have a family. To shop for clothes and groceries without worrying you might be harmed or killed. You deserve life, just like anyone else.

To those readers who have been lucky enough not to be attacked, I urge you to become an ally. If you witness someone being attacked for their presumed gender or sexual orientation, stand up for them. If you know of a young person who no longer has a place to live because their parents do not accept them, help them find a place to stay. If you meet a person who is LBGTQ, welcome them.

Sadly, even being an ally carries a risk. You may be attacked with as much vehemence as LBGTQ people just for standing up for their rights. Please consider that this isn't a choice they can make. They have no control over being who they are.

We can all choose to do the right thing. To be loving, compassionate, accepting people. To value people as people, even if we don't understand their lifestyle. To protect kids from harm, even if we disagree with them.

The name of this blog is real love. Let your love help change society into something that isn't diseased. Understand that LBGTQ kids may feel totally unloved and unwelcome in the world, and do something to change that.

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