Thursday, September 30, 2010

The other victims of the bully.

Above is a news report with Asher Brown's parents. Asher's parent, his family, his friends, were also all victims of the bullying that was going on because Asher was gay.

The school continues to claim that no one reported the bullying to them and that they are blameless. Rot! Here is a video of a girl from Asher's class talking about what happened at school. She tells of the incident where one kid kicked Asher down the stairs. She also recounts listening to students in her school saying: "It's about time he killed himself." Yet, even as she laments what happened she can't ever bring herself to say he was being attacked for being gay. She merely mentions his religion.

There is something that I wish to say, but I hesitate. I hesitate because I don't wish to cause any more pain to those suffering due to the series of untimely deaths. But I wish to speak about the role of specific religious beliefs and how they encourage both the bullying and the suicides.

In one recent case, and I won't name names, the mother of the dead boy seemed to be denying her son was gay. She was very reticent about the issue and avoided it like the plague. Numerous kids from her son's school admitted that the boy had been harassed for being gay. Many of these kids seemed to know the boy was gay, but the mother said nothing about it. Where other parents of victims were enfuriated and spoke out publicly about the bullying, she was silent and said nothing, asking merely for her privacy—which is her right.

I wondered what was happening in the dynamics of that family. Then I learned that they made the funeral arrangements through a fundamentalist, anti-gay church. This church openly says it is anti-gay in its statement of faith. In between all the doctrines about supernatural claims and such they say they oppose "all forms of sexual immorality" including "homosexuality." Given the vicious anti-gay denomination that this church is part of, I am confident that the boy in question heard many anti-gay remarks from his own church, perhaps from his own family. Perhaps this is why the mother says she doesn't want anyone looking for who is to blame for the bullying.

This is a touchy area but it has to be said that many of these kids are not just bullied at school for being gay. But they can't get support from their own families either because of the religious doctrines that these people stupidly adopted. I had a dear, close friend who was gay and who killed himself shortly after graduating high school. I remember having to make the decision NOT to go to the funeral because it was being held in a fundamentlist church, where I knew there was a good chance the minister wouild make remarks that I would not tolerate. Instead of going, and risking making a scene by calling out such remarks when they were made, I stayed home and mourned.

Of late I have been contemplating the negative role that religion has on children. Now not all religions are equally bad, of course. The fundamentalists, in any major religion, are usually the worst of the lot. So it is with Christians as well.

When individuals join these sects they rarely think long term. They may imagine have children, always the perfect children that everyone expects. What they get instead are little human beings who are far from perfect and certainly individuals who fall well shor tof what fundamentalism expects. Few of these parents consciously consider that they may end up being the parent of a gay boy or a lesbian. Those who consider it due to circumstance tend to repress it and consciously refuse to think about it. The mother of the one victim seems to fit that pattern. The most she admitted was that her son was "different" and that he knew he was.

If the family is involved with this church, and it would appear they are since they chose it for the funeral, did they even consider the role that church might have played in the suicide of their son?

Here is a boy dealing with his own sexual orientation but who could well have listened to sermons describing gay people as moral monster out to destroy the world. No doubt this church actively opposed equality of marriage rights for gay people. This boy would have sat in the pews listening to the people that he was told spoke for God, telling him that he is evil, that he is immoral, that is doomed to hell, that he is, as the Bible says, "worthy of death."

Could he come home and talk about the trauma of his bullying? Probably not. If he couldn't tell his mother he was gay, though the whole school semed to know it, how could he tell her he was being bullied for being gay? He might love her deeply, and all indications are that he did, but could he bring himself to tell her the truth when he knew the truth would disappoint her so deeply. It is easier to repress and hide the facts than to risk losing the love of his mother. And if his mother expressed views similar to those of their church he would always have doubts as to whether or not she could love him if she knew the truth.

Over and over fundamentalist Christians have had to face the truth of having gay children. And more often than not they have proven that religion turned them in shitty parents. Fundamentalist parents routinely reject their gay children. Kids who have told their parents they were gay have been kicked out of their homes. Fundamentalist parents have thrown their children out, knowing full well that it may force their son, or daughter, to live on the streets, to prostitute themselves in the hope of being able to eat, or to eat garbage from trash cans. Prominent fundamentalists have done this to their children. Kids who were gay have had their college tuition confiscated by their parents to punish them for their sin.

Put yourself in the place of these gay kids. At school they are picked on for being gay. In church they hear that they are evil and worthy of death. At homes their parents spit out the words queer or faggots, implying that there is nothing worse in the world than a gay person. Everywhere they look their is only rejection.

Other kids at school hear the same things and repeat them to this gay kid. Maybe they physically assault them. Most the gay people I know were assaulted in school, one time or another, because they were gay. They can't tell their fundamentalist parents because they fear rejection from them. They can't talk to their homophobic minister who has regularly consigned them to hell fire for eternity. Is it any wonder that so many of these kids decide they would rather die?

I'm an atheist, I think religion is inherently irrational, a fantasy that people use so as not to face the difficult task of thinking. But some religions are more toxic than others. It is one thing when adults choose to join a irrational, bigoted, hateful sect. But routinely they bring children into the world and inflict that religion on those children, often with very tragic circumstances. Religion is part of the problem. It is not the entire problem and admittedly some atheists can be bigots as well. But surveys show that the religious tend to be more prejudiced than the non-religious and fundamentalits tend to be the most hateful of all. If you simply can't give up the illusion of a supreme being then at least pick a sect that isn't likely to impose self-hatred upon your children.

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