Let’s All Agree On One Thing: No One Is Pro-Bullying, Right?

People may be opposed to gay marriage for whatever religious reasons they have chosen to espouse.  People may be opposed to gay adoption for whatever trumped up reasons they have chosen to cite.  But as far as I know, no one is ACTUALLY in favor of the bullying of LGBT teens in schools.

At least, I seriously hope that no one is in favor of this.

So then my question is really simple: why are we not doing more to help LGBT teens in schools?  According to the report GLSEN just put forward, as many as 60% of LGBT students still feel unsafe in schools.  That’s a little insane.  Can you imagine if 60% of all African American students reported feeling unsafe in schools?  Or 60% of female students?  Or 60% of Jewish students?  I’m serious.  If there were waves of absurd anti-Semetism going through America’s schools, there would be outrage.  NGOs would be up in arms, the media would be all over it, PTAs would be meeting to discuss the problem of anti-Jewish slurs and the bullying of Jewish teens.  Why?  Because this is not Nazi Germany, and we don’t think that such treatment of students is acceptable.

So why on earth would we accept it when the only difference is that LGBT students are a sexual minority instead of a religious minority?  It doesn’t make any sense.

The fact is, there is so much more that schools could be doing.  Like getting teachers and counselors safe space certified, so that they’ll be more sensitive to the issues that LGBT students are having.  Like holding assemblies about bullying that specifically mention LGBT students.  Like promoting organizations like Gay Straight Alliance chapters that would help promote acceptance and make LGBT students feel like they had allies.  Like support the National Day of Silence.  I mean, the list just goes on and on.  So why aren’t schools doing these things?

There are only a few reasons I can really come up with.  The first is a really bad parental rights argument, that parents ave a right to shield their students from exposure to a group they take offense to.  But that’s really stupid.   Just because a parent thinks that Jews are Satanists doesn’t mean they can prevent schools from teaching about the Holocaust.  The next is that it “might inspire kids to become gay”, but this makes literally no sense, so I’m not even going to get into it.  The third argument I can come up with is that it’s a waste of resources, but is it really a waste?  Anti-bullying measures benefit a school as a whole and help create a more positive learning environment on balance, which is obviously good for the school.

But even more important, when did the random views of some particularly militant parents start to outweigh the rights of the students?  Because whether the religious right wants you to realize this or not, students DO have rights.  They have a right to NOT get assaulted.  They have a right to a safe learning space.  And the preferences of parents should NOT override the safety and well-being of actual students at the school.  If parents feel that strongly, they can send their kids to private school, or home-school them.

Ultimately, the school’s obligation needs to be to its students, and making its students feel safe, so that they can succeed.  I can’t imagine that we would allow for such a large portion of any other group to continue to be unsafe, so I fail to understand why schools, which have an obligation to help these students, are failing to do so.

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~ by Randi Saunders on September 5, 2012.

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