Saturday, April 18, 2009

GayPatriotWest: Day of Silence - Quit Your Whining Already!

For someone who grew up in a progressive New England household, went to an uber-progressive undergraduate and a sophisticated urban graduate school, and whiles away his time on another degree in mythology in West Hollywood, I can understand why GayPatriotWest/Dan Blatt could be so out of touch regarding the issue of bullying in public schools. I'm not sure if he's aware of recent cases where a boy of 11 committed suicide because of anti-gay slurs and other bullying in his public school. 11! That's why his rant today about GLSEN and the Day of Silence was so disgusting.

As usual, he misses the thrust of the movement characterizing it as a "silly gimmick" from people who "go out of their way to advertise their difference." It's not about promoting gay issues in school or promoting difference. It's about the harassment students receive in school based on perceptions about sexuality and how to make schools safer.

While Grandpa Blatt thinks all the gay kids in school march down the middle of the hall waving rainbow flags, the reality couldn't be further from that perception. The little boy who committed suicide was 11. What could he have know about sexuality to even be considered gay except for the taunting and harassment he received and how miserable he was made to feel from others?

Just as any kid during adolescence, most gay kids in public school do all they can to blend in and not be noticed. But there are blatant examples that issues with gay youth are not being addressed. Here in New York City there's a horrible problem with the number of gay homeless youth turned out from their families or simply avoiding schools for the harassment they receive.

This national protest is about changing behavior, not about trying to change thought. School administrators regularly ignore harassment issues. And while I pity the effect of having to resolve parenting issues in school settings, school administrators have a duty to nip bad behavior in the bud. Ignoring the issue isn't good enough. It's easy to connect this negligence to the fact that gay youth are four times as likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. I doubt this is from the tolerant and inclusive atmosphere promoted by people like GayPatriotWest calling GLSEN's campaign a "silly gimmick."

Maybe Dan just thinks gay youth should just butch it up more, stay in the closet and carry concealed weapons to resolve these sorts of problems. For Republicans and conservatives it's always a double standard of requesting you tolerate their intolerance. Amazing, simply amazing.

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