This is a very important and insightful column from Mike. Yes, the situation is getting better for LGBT adults, but not kids. The haters are, directly and indirectly inflicting pain and suffering on kids:
Breaking every nasty stereotype perpetuated by bigots, the kids of gay parents are indeed all right. The irony lies in the fact that it’s the children of straight parents who are very much in a full-blown crisis, be they gay and victims of bullying or the perpetrators of bullying themselves. It’s hard to know if gay teen suicides are on the rise or if media reports—and the use of the Internet to get news out—have focused more attention on them. But one thing is certain: They’re happening at an unacceptable rate.
Syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage, who started the It Gets Better Project on YouTube in response to the suicides, believes that despite the gains of the gay equality movement and the coming out of celebrities here and there, life is worse today for LGBT teens than it was 20 years ago, particularly for those living far from urban areas. While the gay political movement has made dramatic strides, he says, most of those advances have been for adults in big cities. And, at the same time, the religious right has come full force out of its own closet—condemning homosexuality and pushing “ex-gay” therapy. In suburban and rural areas, preachers attack gays, ugly campaigns have been waged to bar gays from marrying, and politicians rail that gays shouldn’t be teaching in schools.
Savage is on to something: As we have moved ahead with a civil rights movement for LGBT adults—marriage, employment nondiscrimination laws, adoption and gay parenting—the organized political movement has largely ignored the backlash our success has triggered and, more significantly, ignored how that backlash hurts gay youths. Yes, there are excellent groups focused on these issues, such as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. But many gay adults, unless they have children themselves, are far removed from these issues and often see fighting discrimination in their own lives as more important. It’s true, of course, that progress for LGBT adults helps everyone in the long run. If LGBT people had full civil rights—equal marriage rights and federal constitutional protections against discrimination—homophobia would diminish in society and young people would grow up in a better world. Surely that’s a common goal of all of those fighting for marriage equality and an end to discrimination. But in a world of instant gratification we sometimes forget that full equality is going to be a long time off. And the hate will only get worse.
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