It’s not just a few lines in some seemingly arcane policy. It’s the very lives of young people, as this past week has shown us. Two very different young men have each committed suicide due to bullying behaviors.
Asher Brown committed suicide at 13 after persistent homophobic bullying:
Brown, his family said, was "bullied to death" — picked on for his small size, his religion and because he did not wear designer clothes and shoes. Kids also accused him of being gay, some of them performing mock gay acts on him in his physical education class, his mother and stepfather said.
And Tyler Clementi committed suicide after two classmates streamed his sexual encounter online:
A distraught Tyler Clementi, 18, left his wallet on the George Washington Bridge before plunging to his death in the Hudson River last Wednesday, sources said.
A Twitter post from one of the students accused of streaming the sexual encounter live on the internet indicated Clementi, a renowned high school violinist, was with another man.
"Roommate asked for the room till midnight," read the post from Dharun Ravi, 18. "I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
What drove the bullies in each case to torture their classmate, and what made the torture so unbearable for the young men, are two sides of the same coin: a deeply dysfunctional, dangerous approach to sex and sexuality in our culture. If the bullies are
monsters, who made them so? A world whose laws, ministers, schools, and popular culture demand prominent displays of heterosexuality – leading to bullying, miserably closeted lives, sexual harassment, and early sexual experiences, to name just a few.
What has to happen to make it OK for some kids to be gay? How about for them to just be small and soft spoken? How about for them to be straight, but not feel they have to prove it by calling each other faggots or pressuring young women to have sex with them?
What has to happen is some world changing, and it has to happen fast.