Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
I’ve been reading about Kenneth Weishuhn, a 14-year-old who recently took his own life after reportedly enduring death threats after coming out as gay at school. Especially heartbreaking was that, according to the Huffington Post, Weishuhn had a Pinterest page with a “When I get married” section featuring “photos of vintage menswear, candle centerpieces and wedding cake toppers depicting two grooms.”
In other words, the kid really did think he had a future. And yet, now he doesn’t.
And neither do the many other LGBT kids who have killed themselves because they felt that death was a better option than this painful, cruel world.
Which is why I feel angry when I watch Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican running for U.S. Senate, shrug off bullying and deride Senator Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) attempt to do something about it.
Franken’s Student Non-Discrimination Act, a.k.a. SB 555, would, according to Franken’s website, establish “a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination and bullying in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In an April 12 debate, Wilson stated her opposition to the bill, and demonstrated a lack of regard for LGBT young people and showed that she doesn’t seem to be aware of or care about the rash of LGBT suicides.
She begins by saying she can hardly imagine a bill that she and Franken might agree on, but that this certainly isn’t one of them.
She continues, “[SB 555] is an act that would criminalize harassment or bullying in schools of children who are gay or who – it criminalizes bullying.”
If you watch the video you’ll see how hard it is for Wilson to even say “gay.” She stumbles around that word like a pair of roller skates on a stairway. Perhaps she has a hard time with the idea that children could be gay at all. That a child, especially a young one, could “know” his or her sexual orientation feels, to some, kind of icky. A seven-year-old who declares he loves and wants to kiss Justin Bieber freaks people out. But if that boy says the same thing about Selena Gomez, no problem. There’s no difference in the level of sexuality in either statements. The level of stigma, however, is vastly different.
Wilson says that SB 555 is “misplaced.”
“With respect to this particular agenda we have to recognize as parents that children tease each other because you’re short or you’re tall or you’re a redhead or because you’re ugly or because you’re smart or because you’re dumb or all kinds of differences and as parents we have to deal with that and strengthen our children to be comfortable with themselves and also to show empathy and acceptance towards others,” she says.
She’s right in that the best way to stop bullying is to raise kids to be confident in who they are and caring towards others. But texting a gay kid with death threats or making his life a living hell with constant harassment is not the same thing as being teased because you wear glasses. Sure, you could argue that even if Weishuhn’s school had some kind of anti-bullying policy that he may have still killed himself. But by making discrimination against LGBT kids official policy a school or a state or even a federal government is saying, “We acknowledge this is happening, we want it to stop, and we’re not fucking around.” It sends a message to these kids that they matter. That someone not only knows that they are alive, but wants them to stay that way.