I am not often shocked. I have witnessed red-blooded human nature at its most anemic, so I am never all that surprised to read of the attempted exsanguination of marginalized society by those who claim the highly publicized moral high road. My usual head shake, however, became a double take as I read where the Christian media conglomerate, Focus on the Family, is claiming that anti-bullying education, as it pertains to LGBT issues, is pushing a gay agenda and is inherently discriminatory against evangelical teachings. In doing so, this “tolerance” education is conveying homosexuality as normal and worthy of acceptance and should be removed from the curriculum. So what are you saying? Early home-schooled social misfits should be protected, but homos should have the hell kicked out of them because they are not your idea of normal? Add this to the fact we have a national political candidate splashed across the mainstream media as having used words such as deviant, blasphemous, and abhorrent when describing gays and lesbians. She also excuses gay bashing as “kids will be kids”, descriptive terminology of which Focus on the Family would agree in all probability.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, just released their 2009 School Climate Survey that details key findings on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. Nearly 9 in 10 LGBT students have been harassed in the last year. A new study was just released that states a majority of people consider the pet pooch more family worthy than a same-sex couple without kids. When you continually bestow upon a group of human beings a status just below a dog, then is there any wonder why they are treated like one? Or in this case…worse.
Let me tell you a story…
Two girls, one light in features, one dark, sit on the floor surrounded by nuclear physics homework, the lesson plans for a finger-paint art project, and what is left of an extra large meat lover’s double cheese pizza. They are discussing their future. One is well on her way to medical school, the other an early childhood teacher. Though career paths are important, this discussion is of their future together. You see, these two met early in their college days as sorority sisters that hailed more from the Lesbos origins of Greek than that of Pan-Hellenic.
The talk is not of the long hours of an intern or the pittance of a teacher’s salary, the discussion is how they will make it…together. You see, this romance is in full bud during the years Debbie Harry could still hit the high note, and being gay was something akin to slapping your mamma in public. Though on a exponentially higher scale of social faux pas, like wearing white shoes after Labor Day, it just wasn’t done.
The dark-haired girl is the stronger of the two, both physically and emotionally, and she promised her own Blondie that she would take care of her when they told their parents of the life that awaited them. She had been through it all before, the whispering, the exclusion, and the early morning discovery inside an unlocked door that led to weeks in identity rehab. Did it cure her? No, no, no…it made her stronger. Little did she know the upcoming strength required of her would demand that of Atlas.
She returned from class one day to find her light was gone. Empty closet, no note, just gone. The dark one drove looking into the night, all the time knowing what she would find. Cut off from all around her, the light was diminished inside a familial fortress by jailers of chromosomal kinship, parental executioners of what they considered tainted love. The impenetrable psychological shackles of mental and physical abuse, in the name of a bastardized version of a compassionate religion, replaced more tangible locks that could be picked. Desperation, loss, one last act to end the pain…and the light was self-extinguished. The other with the strength of Atlas fell to her knees, her world now too heavy to carry, and alone in her darkness.
This story is about loss, the loss of life, the loss of love, and the unfathomable loss of compassion. The darkness of her life choice was blamed for her demise, and still is as a matter of fact. But the darkness did not do this; an overwhelming lack in the willingness to sympathize in her suffering did this. When do we stop making a game of human suffering where our side versus your side is measured in the win/loss column of human souls? When a so-called Christian organization like Focus on the Family can openly call for the cessation of anti-bullying education for LGBT youth and young adults without so much as a whisper of media rebuttal, we have lost our passion for the sanctity of life.
For years, groups like Focus on the Family have quoted scripture at me to make a stinging point of my chronic abomination, so now it’s my turn. I choose to quote my Jesus, one who also likes to use a provocative story or two to make a point. In his story, JC tells of a traveler, probably a Jewish traveler, who was beaten, robbed, stripped, and left for dead along the side of the road in a pretty sketchy neighborhood. A priest and another authoritarian religious man see the traveler, bloodied and dying on the side of the road, but decide to leave their brother to the reaper rather than pull their donkey over in this part of town. I guess the traveler made the wrong choice, and he got what was coming to him. Not long after, a Samaritan happened by and saw the dying man by the side of the road. Now, I have to tell you, Samaritans and Jews despised each other. They agreed on nothing from rights to religion to moral superiority. To have left the man there to the mercy of his own free will would have been no surprise action by the Samaritan. However, he goes to the man, gives him water, tends to his wounds, puts him on his own donkey, and leads him to shelter. Before he leaves, the Samaritan pays for the traveler’s lodging and asks that he be cared for until he is able to continue on his way. True story. It’s gospel.
This, my friends, is compassion. It has no political affiliation, it has no gender or religion, it has no cultural boundary, it has no book or testament. It has no agenda. It is a virtue that allows us to recognize human suffering and look past our petty prejudices. So many of our young LGBT brothers and sisters are on that side of the road, emotionally bleeding while the righteous pass them by. I knew an early childhood education major that would want me to say to Focus on the Family, “Diversity education has got to be applied…religiously.”