Chronicle blogger blames ‘It Gets Better” project for LGBT teen suicides

Kathleen McKinley

Kathleen McKinley

Kathy McKinley is a self-described “conservative activist” who blogs for the Houston Chronicle under the monicker “TexasSparkle.” In a recent post McKinley took the “It Gets Better” project to task for what she believes is their culpability in the suicides of LGBT teens:

“These kids were sold a bill of goods by people who thought they were being kind. The “It will get better” campaign just didn’t think it through. They didn’t think about the fact that kids are different from adults. They handle things differently. They react differently. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE KIDS. You can grumble all day long how unfair it is that straight teens can be straight in high school, and gay kids can’t, but life is unfair. Isn’t the price they are paying too high?? Is it so much to ask them to stand at the door of adulthood before they “come out” publically? Because it may save their life.”

McKinnley’s primary confusion about the “It Gets Better” campaign (other than its name) is the assumption that the goal is to encourage teens to come out of the closet, or encourage them to become sexually active:

“Why in the world would you give teenagers a REASON to tease you? Oh, yes, because the adults tell you to embrace who you are, the only problem? Kids that age are just discovering who they are. They really have no idea yet. The adults tell you to “come out,” when what we should be telling them is that sex is for adults, and there is plenty of time for figuring out that later.”

I would like to encourage Ms. McKinley to watch the “It Gets Better” project’s founder Dan Savages’ video. Please, Ms. McKinley, listen, and tell me if you hear Savage or his partner Terry say anything about teens coming out or having sex. I think what you’ll hear them say is that all of the things that most kids, gay and straight, dream of (falling in love, starting a family, having the support of their parents, co-workers and friends) are possible for LGBT teens. I think you’ll hear them talk about how difficult their teen years were, and about the fears they had that their parents would reject them, that they’d never find success and that they’d always be alone.

Choosing to have sex is one of the most personal decision a person will ever make. For LGBT people, choosing to come out is another. I have not watched all of the thousands of videos from people who have participated in the “It Gets Better” project. It’s possible that there are a few that tell kids to come out right away, or to become sexually active, but I doubt it.

Every video in the project that I have seen has had the same simple message: that the person making it understands how tortuously awful the experience of being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender in Junior and High School can be, but there is a wonderful world of loving, vibrant, successful, engaged LGBT adults out there and if queer teens can just hang on, just for a few years, they can join it. I doubt that any of the contributors to the project think that hanging on for a few years will be easy. I suspect that most of them remember, with excruciating clarity, contemplating ending those temporary years of terror with a permanent solution and that is why they choose to reach out.

I grew up without role models, where people like Barbara Gittings, Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk didn’t exist . I grew up in a small town where the two men with the pink house were talked about in hushed tones that immediately fell silent when I walked into the room, because it wasn’t appropriate for children’s ears. I grew up in a world where my mother wouldn’t tell me what “gay” meant, where the evening news was turned off if it reported on the AIDS crisis, where I wasn’t given words to describe who I was, and so the only word I could find was “alone.”

I was lucky. My suicide attempt failed.

I was lucky, I survived, and went to college, and found a church that embraced and loved LGBT people. That’s where I met doctors and lawyers and business owners and teachers who were like me. That’s where I met two wonderful women who had built a life together for over 50 years. That’s where I discovered I wasn’t alone and that being gay didn’t mean that i couldn’t have all of those things I’d dreamed of.

That is what McKinley missed in her blog post. In her haste to lay blame on anything other than the overwhelming prejudice perpetuated by schools, churches and governments against LGBT people McKinley missed the fact that kids need role models. In her rush to shove queer teens back into the closet she forgot that human beings need the hope of a better world, lest they give up in despair.

McKinley got one thing right in her post. She titled it “Are Adults Also To Blame For Gay Teen Suicides? Yes.” Adults are to blame for LGBT teen suicides. When adults hide the stunning diversity of God’s creation from their children they create a vision of reality that some of those children can’t see themselves in. When adults tell LGBT teens that they should be invisible then it is all too clear who is to blame when those teens believe them, and take steps to make themselves invisible permanently.

To all the LGBT kids out there: it does get better. There are adults who care about you and want all the wonderful things you dream of to come true, but you have to hang on. If you need to keep who are secret to remain safe then do so. If you need someone to talk to please call the Trevor Project at 866-4-U-Trevor (866-488-7386).

—  admin

Nu uh, Maggie Gallagher: You’re not gonna blame us for foreskin!

Really, Maggie? You’re seriously connecting the following independent push — which has been met with diverse support and opposition that transcends all political, religious, gender, etc. lines — to the modern civil marriage equality movement?

The next big idea out of San Francisco: ban circumcision.

That’s really the next big idea for liberals? No Jews allowed?

BY MAGGIE

After SSM: What Next? [NOM Blog]

So is this what we’re in for: Anything that happens from this point in time forward is all part of same-sex marriage’s supposed “slippery slope”? Every time a gnat farts out a wind that drifts too leftward, and I’m going to have to answer for the ring that proudly resides on my left hand? Really?

And ironically: This circumcision proposal is making use of California’s ballot initiative system, the very system that Prop 8 proponents like Maggie used for their own purposes. So if we were going to connect it to any prior thing (though we probably wouldn’t), wouldn’t it be most logical to look back on those other times that the CA ballot was used to fulfill a motivated group’s personal whims? We’re thinking so.




Good As You

—  David Taffet

Most Of America Believes 2,000-Year-Old Man Hanging On a Cross Is To Blame For Gay Kids Killing Themselves

Who's ready for some fun statistics-backed blame gaming! A survey conducted last week reveals some 65 percent of Americans believe organized religion is connected to higher rates of suicide among LGBT youth, while 72 percent say religious institutions are behind "negative viewers" of queers. Nearly a third of Catholics (more than twice as any other religious denomination) would give their own church's handling of homosexuality a D or F. And while four in ten respondents say all places of worship would receive a D or F grade, roughly the same number would their own temples an A or B rating. (Read: Everybody's views are skewed.) But in the middle of religious institutions being attacked, at least Christians and Jews — who disagree on some of the most basic tenants of life, creation, and the lord — are coming together on something: Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the U.S. Military and Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America both agree that repealing Don't Ask Don't tell could totally harsh on their shared belief that homosexuality is disgusting.


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—  admin

Does NOM share blame for gay teen suicides?

NOTE FROM JOHN: Please welcome Gabriel Arana, a new contributor to AMERICAblog and AMERICAblog Gay. Gabriel is the assistant web editor at The American Prospect and writes about gay-rights issues, immigration, education, and media culture. His pieces have appeared in The NationSlate, The Advocate, the Daily Beast, and other publications. He is a graduate of Yale University and a native of Nogales, Arizona.
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On the heels of yet another gay suicide, NOM President Maggie Gallagher has an op-ed in the New York Post absolving herself of responsibility.

Evan Wolfson, one of the leading architects of the gay marriage movement, calls me out personally: “National Organization for Marriage Chairman Maggie Gallagher is among those who, with reckless disregard, attacks LGBT youth.”

Former Clinton adviser Richard Socarides told the AP these suicides demonstrate why gays should be allowed to marry: “When you speak out for full equality now, as opposed to partial equality, or incremental equality, you send a message to everybody, including the bullies, that everyone is equal.”

Apparently, either we all agree that gay marriage is good or gay children will die.

Gallagher’s formulation of the argument makes it sound ridiculous. Of course she and her ilk are not directly responsible for the spate of gay suicides, but most gay-rights folk aren’t arguing that — it’s a straw man. The real charge is that anti-gay rhetoric in politics has a trickle-down effect that reinforces the type of anti-gay attitudes that make life tough for gay teens. The connection between the work of the National Organization for Marriage and the culture of homophobia that prevails in schools is much less direct, but it exists.

Opponents of marriage equality — or of gays serving in the military, for that matter — like to pretend that their “principled” opposition to gay rights is not borne of the sort of prejudice that makes bullies beat up on gay kids. To that point, they’ll condemn discrimination against gays and lesbians, and indeed if you’ve ever heard Gallagher speak, she seems like a pretty reasonable person, even nice. But this is what makes anti-gay activists like her so pernicious: They lend prejudice an air of respectability.

First, it is difficult to deny that the people voting for gay-marriage bans, or who oppose gays in the military, aren’t motivated by prejudice. Just look at the comments section of any news piece about a gay-rights issue; armed with anonymity, people are more than willing to say that they don’t want gay marriage because gays are gross, etc. And the leaders of the anti-marriage crowd rely on this sort of bigotry as a platform. As a federal judge in California found this summer, over and over the proponents of Prop. 8 appealed to people’s fear of, and disgust with, gay people, warning that children weren’t safe and that the states would fall into the hands of Satan were Adam and Steve to get married. On TV, gay-rights opponents like Gallagher offer more reasoned arguments against gay marriage — e.g., we don’t know what the consequences will be, so we should proceed with caution – but when it comes to the heat of a campaign, you see what the anti-marriage movement is really about.

But I’d go a step further. Gallagher and her ilk aren’t just using bigotry to their advantage; they are motivated by it as well. This is of course harder to prove, but social psychology shows that people form attitudes before they come up with rationalizations for them; in other words, you dislike gay people before you come up with a reason for opposing gay marriage. Actually, it’s pretty easy to test yourself. Psychologists use a standard, timed word-association test called the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to measure unconscious attitudes toward various minority groups. Harvard has put up a demonstration site where you can test yourself here. I’d bet anything that if they didn’t coach themselves, the IAT would show that all the top people at NOM have strong negative feelings about gay people.

The broader point is that opposition to marriage equality is deeply rooted in prejudice. This prejudice manifests itself in various ways — in bullying, hateful online comments, and yes, in political opposition to gay rights. While Gallagher is not barging into schools bullying gay kids, she is reinforcing the type of prejudice that leads others to do so.

But the most bizarre part of her op-ed is where she seems to deny that there is any connection between bullying and teen suicide at all:

These kinds of negative outcomes are consistent with the idea that anti-gay bullying is mainly responsible for the higher suicide rate among gay teens. But as I kept reading, I kept finding pieces of the puzzle that don’t seem to fit the “it’s homophobia pulling the trigger” narrative.

Gay students are also more than twice as likely to report having had sexual intercourse before age 13 — that is, to be sexually abused as children. They are three times as likely to report being the victims of dating violence, and nearly four times as likely to report forced sexual contact. A majority of LGBT teens in Massachusetts reported using illegal drugs in the last month. (Perhaps most oddly, gay teens are also three times as likely as non-gay teens to report either becoming pregnant or getting someone else pregnant.)

These, Gallagher says, are the real reasons gay kids are committing suicide. But “having sexual intercourse before age 13” does not necessarily indicate that these children are abused — I’m not sure where Gallagher got this finding, but it could very well be the case that it’s kids playing around with each other (it’s hard to know without the source); it’s also disturbingly reminiscent of the argument that people who are molested turn out to be gay — a psychological finding that has long been discredited. I also bet a majority of straight teens in Massachusetts reported using illegal drugs in the last months, too. But these things are not the point. Even if these other factors contribute to gay teens committing suicide, it simply does not follow that anti-gay bullying isn’t part of the problem — in fact, the prejudice, and the bullying it inspires, could be at the root of many of these problems.

At the end of the op-ed, Gallagher says that “each of these kids is a child of God,” and says they need “real help.” But apparently even children of God don’t deserve to be free of bullying in schools.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Video: Gays to blame for not sitting back, shutting up, and letting Bryan Fischer tell us how awful we are

**EARLIER FISCHER:

-The time Mr. Fischer said “there frankly is no other kind of homosexual than the dysfunctional kind”

-The time Mr. Fischer came out against “open homosexuals and sexually active single adults” teaching in public schools

-The time Mr. Fischer took on our anal cavities

-The time Mr. Fischer said ‘Nope’ to all GOP support for gay rights

-The time Mr. Fischer said “homosexuals should be disqualified from public office”

-The time Mr. Fischer said that “homosexuals in the military gave us…six million dead Jews.

-The time Mr. Fischer called on Christian conservatives to breed gays and progressives out of existence

-The time Mr. Fischer declared that “Every time an HIV-infected male has sex with another male, it’s essentially the same as plunging an infected heroin needle into his arm. He’s passing on a potential death sentence, just as the Taliban seeks to do on a foreign battlefield.”

-The time Mr. Fischer said only gays were savage enough for Hitler

-The time Mr. Fischer invoked a Biblical story about stabbing “sexually immoral” people with spears, saying we need this kind of action in modern day

-The time Mr. Fischer compared gays to heroin abusers

-The time Mr. Fischer told us to just shut up

-The time Mr. Fischer oddly interpreted past historical oppressions

-The time Mr. Fischer directly compared laws against gay soldiers to those that apply to bank robbers




Good As You

—  John Wright

Audio: Don’t blame me for mental anguish, says he who claims gays ‘yield to sexual immorality’

Screen Shot 2010-10-05 At 11.55.18 Am

(click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: Bullying Knows No Bounds [Chuck Colson's Breakpoint]




Good As You

—  John Wright

If your security guard is out having a smoke while your store is getting robbed, do you only blame the burglar?

So you pay a lot of money for a security guard. He’s the best in the business, and promises to be loads better than the drunk you had before. Somehow, however, your home ends up getting burgled anyway. It seems the guard was busy doing other things when he said he’d be watching your home.

So you’re pretty much screwed, and you’re angry. Who do you blame?

1. Just the burglar; or

2. The burglar and the lazy security guard?

Some in the gay community, and the administration, would like you to believe that the Republicans are the sole ones responsible for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” going down in flames this week. And to some extent they’re right – clearly it was the GOP that led the filibuster of the Defense Bill.

But is that really the whole story? That the Republicans did it?

Isn’t it true that the Senate leadership is supposed to rally its own caucus for important legislation? And just as importantly, doesn’t the President of the United States have his bully pulpit, in addition to other mechanisms for pressuring members of Congress on votes?

This past week, the Republicans led the charge to be sure. But it’s also true that Senator Reid was unable to keep his caucus in line – two defected and joined the GOP filibuster, giving them enough votes to kill the bill.

And then there’s the President. He was simply AWOL. While DADT repeal supporters were frantically trying to scrounge up the votes to block the filibuster, the President didn’t lift a finger to keep Democrats in line, or to try to embarrass Republicans for the “un-American” act of voting against a defense bill (something the GOP routinely accused Democrats of during their years in the majority). Instead of calling members of the Senate about the DOD bill, the President was busy calling the WNBA champions. And instead of punishing Democratic Senators who strayed and sided with the GOP in an effort to kill one of the President’s top campaign promises, VP Biden actually did a fundraiser for one of those Democrats the day after the ignominious vote.

We’ve been robbed. And you’d better believe I’m pissed at the thief. But I’m also pissed at the security guard who I gave a lot of money to in exchange for his promise to be my fierce advocate. When the going got tough, he chickened out. And the funny thing is, now he wants me to hire his buddies for another two years.

I get that the bad guys are still out there. But I’m thinking it’s time to look for a new bodyguard.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Fidel Castro: Blame Me For Cuba’s Persecution of Queers

If anyone is responsible (for the persecution), it's me. I'm not going to place the blame on others. … We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death In those moments I was not able to deal with that matter (of homosexuals). I found myself immersed, principally, in the Crisis of October (Cuban Missile Crisis), in the war, in policy questions.

—Fidel Castro, accepting blame for labeling Cuban gays "counterrevolutionaries" and shipping many off to work camps, and insisting it is not the fault of the state's Communist Party at large while trying to explain why he let the discrimination take place [via]


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—  John Wright