How Can We Stop Gay Bullying?
In the wake of the highly publicized four 2010 gay teen suicides toward the end of the year, America asked herself: how can we stop gay bullying? It was at this juncture that it became apparent how schools and even the gay community had failed its youth. With this failure in mind, how can we stop gay bullying today?
- Offer resources for gay preteens and younger teens. It is insufficient to provide resources for those nearly done with college or perhaps entering college. Asking for and knowing where to find help needs to start at puberty, which generally requires an available network in the preteen years.
- Introduce gay role models. With the exception of politics, arts and literature, there are very few gay role models that youngsters can look to. How can we stop gay bullying virtually overnight? Have some high-profile athletes come out of the closet about their sexuality! If "cool" and "gay" could be put in the same sentence, there is a good chance that gay bullying will go down overall.
- Quit politicizing the issues. It is great to be on the barricades for gay marriage and a variety of other causes. Even so, for the youngest gays in particular, there needs to be an understanding that the world is (generally) okay. Giving our youth a position of secure strength makes them less likely targets for being picked on by peers looking for weakness.
- Train teachers to stop the gay slurs. Bullying is learned in the home but perpetuated in the schools. Teachers must keep their ears open and eyes peeled for gay slurs, taunting and baiting. Estimates suggest that students may be subjected to as many as 25 slurs each day but teachers generally do not respond about 97 percent of the time. How can we stop gay bullying if we do not have the educators on board?
So, how can we stop gay bullying? It is apparent that the most overlooked demographic is the middle school population of boys and girls who are growing up to recognize that they are different and may subsequently become victims of gay bullying.