CAT | Students and Bullying
Just over a week ago, the Columbus Dispatch ran a story highlighting (celebrating?) Ohio State football’s new approach to conditioning and training motivation in the Urban Meyer regime: avoid the lavender jersey.
The Dispatch’s Tim May describes Ohio State’s new director of performance, Mickey Marrioti, as “a colorful motivator,” and that “In a scarlet and gray world, a lavender shirt sticks out.”
How it works: you loaf on the field and Mariotti makes you wear a lavender shirt—something the Dispatch describes as “a stain that takes at least a week of renewed gusto to erase.”
Senior linebacker Etienne Sabino acknowledges the purpose of the program, “You don’t want to wear those.”
So what’s wrong with it?
First, and the focus of my concern, while being masked as a tool to build a competitive team environment, forcing a player to wear a lavender jersey as punishment is patently homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, etc. It takes a color that is feminine—and regularly associated with either women or the gay community—and assigns it to weakness, lack of commitment, or failure to work hard. It is then used to demean and humiliate, you know, because the color is capable of emasculating even the manliest of men.
A former professor of mine, Douglas Whaley, blogged on the subject as well. (It is actually how I found out about this.) Whaley writes: “It never occurs to Marotti, of course, that some of his players might actually be gay.”
That is the biggest problem I have with the lavender jersey. If there is a single gay player on that team (the roster lists 86 young men, so odds are, there is at least one) or even an assistant coach or other team personnel, that person is now pushed further in to the closet and feels even more unwelcome and ostracized by the team. Isn’t that rather contrary to the purpose of building a cohesive football team?
Professor Whaley submitted a letter to the Dispatch editors much to that effect:
“So Ohio State football’s new director of performance makes players who are loafers on the field, in the weight room, etc., wear a lavender shirt to embarrass them ["New strength coach a colorful motivator," Feb. 13, 2012]. Does he also use anti-gay slurs when referring to these slackers or is the shirt’s color enough to send the same homophobic message?”
Sheesh, such a contrast from Jim Tressel (who, by the way, is as outspokenly Christian as Urban Meyer) who, as you may have forgotten, was the first Division I NCAA football coach to be interviewed by a GLBT publication.
The second problem—beyond that first point that I’m sure many folks would roll their eyes at, suggesting it is just some over-sensitive, liberal agenda mumbo-jumbo—at best, the program violates numerous NCAA and Ohio state policies, and at worst, the program violates Ohio law and Title IX.
Where to start?
How about Ohio State Athletics’ “Our Values” statement? Most pertinent:
People. We will keep the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff at the core of every decision.
I’m pretty sure the well-being of any gay athletes, coaches, or staffs have been ignored on this one.
Respect. We will celebrate a climate of mutual respect and diversity by recognizing each individual’s contribution to the team.
Violates this too.
What about the NCAA’s anti-hazing campaigns?
It turns out there is not an explicit hazing rule promulgated by the NCAA, but there are countless programs and initiatives the NCAA has initiated to prevent hazing. While most are directed at student-on-student hazing, it is much worse that hazing at issue here is coming directly from the institution—the entity usually charged with protecting the student-athletes from this type of conduct.
One initiative, NCAA’s hazing handbook, titled, “Building New Traditions: Hazing Prevention in College Athletics,” is illustrative.
Page 3. Comparing what is hazing versus team building.
Hazing: humiliates and degrades, tears down individuals, creates division, lifelong nightmares, shame and secrecy, and is a power trip.
This lavender jersey idea hits every single one of those…
Team building: promotes respect and dignity, supports and empowers, creates real teamwork, lifelong memories, pride and integrity, and is a shares positive experience.
… And none of these.
Page 4. What should athletic administrators be responsible for?
Well, crap, the athletic administrators are the ones doing the hazing here, so thinking they’d would act accordingly to prevent others from doing so is asking too much at Ohio State.
No need to keep going through the document; there is plenty there if you want to read further.
How about the “Hazing Fact Sheet” promulgated by the Ohio State Union?
While more directed at student organizations and fraternities, I presume the rules also apply to athletic teams (and if they don’t officially, they should). The Student Code of Conduct definition of hazing: “Doing, requiring or encouraging any act . . . that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm or humiliation.”
Okay, I’ve provided enough of the “soft” policies; how about some “hard” law now?
Civil liability for hazing is set forth in Ohio Revised Code § 2307.44: “Any person who is subject to hazing . . . may commence a civil action for injury or damages, including mental and physical pain and suffering, that result from the hazing.”
“If the hazing involves students in a . . . university . . . , an action may also be brought against any administrator, employee, or faculty member of the . . . university . . . who knew or reasonably should have known of the hazing and who did not make reasonable attempts to prevent it and against the . . . university . . . .”
That language looks really bad for Ohio State.
Now, the definition for hazing is written rather narrowly in § 2903.31, which could be a defense for Ohio State, in the event a player tried to sue about this.
A quick aside: I doubt any player—probably the only party that would have standing to actually sue about this—would ever bring a civil action about this. But, I think it’s generally a good idea to avoid violating laws whether or not you will actually be sued. (And you never know, maybe there is a gay player on the team or maybe one of those “loafers” doesn’t get their scholarship extended for next year and has a reason to sue.)
Anyway, the definition: “‘hazing’ means doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation into any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to any person.”
Arguably, the lavender jersey is not an “act of initiation.” If faced with a suit, I’m sure the school would say that the conditioning program is not an initiation to the team. The contrary argument is that especially during the early stages of team formation and conditioning, the norms and culture are being formed, and those are the team are being initiated to it. No knowing which argument would prevail, I would still go to the default perspective that a school—particularly one that hasn’t had the most pristine image as of late—should not test a gray area of the law.
Then there is Title IX.
Many only view Title IX as an equalizing device, providing more opportunities for women in sport. But the law is much more broad and can be used against gender stereotyping. The Women’s Sports Foundation provides a great synopsis of some cases that have addressed harassment based on gender expectations. The courts have ruled that “harassment based on gender non-conformity is a form of sex discrimination and, therefore, Title IX applies.”
Whether the conduct of the team (assigning the lavender jersey) or the conduct of the player (being the “loafer” leading to receiving the jersey) would trigger Title IX protection, again is debatable, but again, it seems like it would be risky for a school to continue conduct in such a gray area.
In sum, the lavender jersey motivation bothers me mostly for contributing to the homophobic culture of sports. But knowing that few athletic institutions will change their conduct because of that, hopefully all the violations of NCAA program, Ohio State University policies, and Ohio and federal laws may do the trick.
I’ve been in the works of planning a “homophobia in sports” type of event to be hosted at the Ohio State law school in mid-April. This issue will definitely have to be discussed, and I’ll be calling in the big shots to do the talking (and hopefully will be able to line up some meetings with athletic administrators as well).
A few hat-tips to send out: Professor Whaley for his original blog post, Andy Gammill for directing my attention to it, and Paul Alderete for creating the Ohio lavender jersey used as a thumbnail for this post (I have no idea what the actual lavender jersey looks like).
I had to put some generic title on this post because of …
SPOILER ALERT: if you have not seen the Glee episode from last night (Season 3, Episode 14) titled “On My Way” and if you do not want to be spoiled, stop reading.
In making the usual rounds through my Facebook and Twitter feeds this morning, I quickly found out that I had missed something big on Glee yesterday—and it involved Dave Karofsky, the former football bully that we all discovered was gay in the early part of season 2.
I have not kept up with the show, but I do know the Karofsky character, played by Max Adler, has had a recurring (though, not consistent) role on the show and that he has gone through quite an evolution since his days of being a slushy-throwing bully. He had apologized to Kurt, tried to reform, faced the pressures of being in the closet, transferred schools (I think), and was started to get comfortable in his skin (at one point he discovered and announced that he was a “bear cub”). [If any Gleek wants to correct and/or fill in those details for me, let me know.]
Fast forward to this week’s episode. Knowing a bit of the background and that something worthy of blowing up my timelines involved Karofsky, I had to check it out.
I was treated to one of the most intense few minutes of a television show that I’ve ever witnessed. Juxtaposed against Blaine, played by Darren Criss, belting out a version of “Cough Syrup,” originally performed by Young the Giant, Karofsky is outed, confronted by his entire football team, and then, well, just watch.
Watch the segment [you may need to authorize a Windows Media plug-in to do so, and if that doesn’t work, you can download the clip]:
The looks on his teammates faces. The shoulder check into the lockers. The proverbial option of fight or flight. Cyberbullying. Depression. Feeling helpless. Attempted suicide.
All of that packaged into just over 3 minutes of the show.
And all of it being the consequence of a homophobic athletic culture (in this context) and repeated in so many others throughout society.
I believe the show did a masterful job handling the discussions following the attempt. In fact, I do not know how they could have done this any better.
The brief scene of his dad finding him, and as Sue describes, “the helplessness of that feeling.” Too often, the discussion around bullying and gay suicide is in statistics or religious freedoms. I bet that not a single legislator or advocate that promotes things like the religious exemption to allow bullying has ever imagined that sort of emotion or truly tried to sympathize with the struggle. Real people (or actors portraying issues that I promise you are real) need to become the issue more than any statistic or nuanced interpretation of some legal statute. Real emotions, real pain, real struggle, real inequality.
Continuing on, to presumably ease a bit of the guilt for the faculty, the principal suggests, “it wasn’t our job to know.” But the response is the better one: “then whose job was it?”
That “job”—the one that asks us to be there for our peers, for the youth, for anyone—belongs to everyone. I will be the first to admit that I need to do a better job of it. We all need to do a better job of it. How many have witnessed bullying and stood idly by? How often have we not leant an ear to someone that just needs to talk? We all get caught up in our agendas or obligations; we are scared to open up to others or to allow others to open up to us.
I love how the episode had a group of faculty meeting followed by a group of students. The issue affects both, and the perspective offered by each is incredible. The guilt that Kurt feels is something that everyone who knows anyone that has attempted suicide feels. Could I have reached out to them? Did I ignore them once recently? It is so, so tough.
After much song and dance—of course, it is Glee after all, and it was the “regionals” episode—there was another particularly powerful scene near the end of the episode where Kurt goes to visit Karofsky in the hospital [or download]:
Okay, this scene probably tore me up more than the average person because that scene that Kurt describes and Karofsky envisions—the one being an openly gay sports agent with the partner and the adorable boy—was, for a time, my dream. While I worked for Leigh Steinberg, I would ask myself two competing questions: (1) could I stay in the closet to pursue being an agent or (2) could I be out and still work in sports. While my career path has changed somewhat (not that I’d turn down option #2!) and needless to say, this scene affected me quite a bit.
I also heard that this PSA from Daniel Radcliffe and The Trevor Project aired during the episode (and of course it is awesome):
And continuing with the theme of how great a job Glee, and its characters, are doing on the subject of bullying, here are the “It Gets Better” videos from Max Adler and Chris Colfer:
The Chicago Gay Hockey Association worked with the U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the Chicago Blackhawks today as part of an event to interact with and benefit the LGBT youth of Chicago.
The CGHA has been posting updates on their Facebook and Twitter (which you should follow in order to get updates about the great work they do), including pictures and a link to this release from the office of Representative Quigly:
CHICAGO—Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Blackhawks Denis Savard, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Brett McLean for a youth hockey clinic at Center on Halsted in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Quigley and the Blackhawks led neighborhood kids in hockey drills, team-building exercises, and scrimmages. Quigley and Blackhawks Charities also donated hockey equipment for permanent use at the Center.
“Hockey is for everyone, and it’s important that we give kids of all backgrounds the opportunity to play sports,” said Congressman Quigley. “I want to thank the Blackhawks, the Mayor, and Center on Halsted for joining me to help promote an active lifestyle and the greatest game there is.”
“I am committed to building a healthier Chicago which focuses on providing children more opportunities to be physically active,” said Mayor Emanuel, “Thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks for investing in Chicago’s communities and giving children in neighborhoods across the city the opportunity to play hockey and be active.”
“The Chicago Blackhawks are proud to partner with U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Center on Halsted on this great initiative,” Blackhawks Team President and CEO John McDonough said. “We are appreciative of their support in growing the sport of hockey on a grassroots level while delivering such a positive effect on so many young people in our city.”
“Athletics can help young people build confidence and leadership,” added Center on Halsted CEO Modesto ‘Tico’ Valle. “Unfortunately, too many LGBT youth are prevented from participating fully in team sports because of bullying or other obstacles. We’re proud to work with Mayor Emanuel, Rep. Quigley, and the Chicago Blackhawks to provide the equipment, the training and the safe environment necessary for LGBT youth to participate.”
When I came out to my mom in November of 2003 (when I was 19), she asked the standard question that ignorant, religious parents like to ask: did you try to change?
And like every other gay person raised in a religious family (I’m assuming), I answered truthfully, “of course.”
You are taught from birth that being gay is bad and that you can pray for things, so that’s what you do.
You pray. You fast. You read the scriptures. You pay your tithing (as a Mormon). You do everything that you’re supposed to do.
And I did. By all accounts, aside from my “perverted temptations,” I was a perfect Mormon boy. I didn’t drink. I didn’t swear. I was active in Scouts, at church, and in the community. I was the President of the priesthood group for every age group I was in. I was the one you could count on to show up to shovel the sidewalks, to be early to church to prepare the sacrament, etc.
As a gay closeted youth, you do all of that for two reasons: (1) you’re supposed to be doing everything right if you expect to get your prayers answered and (2) you don’t want people to suspect there is anything wrong with you.
Then there’s the one thing you definitely shouldn’t do as a gay teenager in a religion like Mormonism: you don’t talk to anyone, especially your parents, about it.
That’s the one wish my dad expressed in a conversation on the subject. He wished I had talked to them about it sooner.
Doing so would have been the biggest mistake of my life.
When I told my mom that I, of course, tried to change, she insisted I had not because I did not go through any of the reparative therapy programs. (She didn’t use those exact words, but I know that’s what she meant.)
Today I read an article titled, “Survivor: MIT grad student remembers “ex-gay” therapy,” about Samuel Brinton, a 23-year-old who unfortunately let out his secret during his youth and was subjected to the horrors of reparative therapy.
Samuel was raised by two Southern Baptist ministers, and while living in Kansas at the age of 12, he innocently—something the author describes as mistaking “his sexuality with his sanctity”—informed his dad that he had no temptation for the women in a Playboy magazine, but that he sometimes had those feelings for his best friend Dale.
After some physical violence and intimidation from his father (very Christ-like of the father), Samuel ended up in reparative therapy.
During his first one-on-one appointment, he was lied to. The “therapist” (not licensed, of course), told Sam, “I want you to know that you’re gay, and all gay people have AIDS.” Sam explained how this lie, and others, led him to have an incredibly distorted view of being gay.
The “therapy” became increasingly more severe, both physically and emotionally, after that in what Sam describes in three steps:
“[T]he first step” of his therapy involved attaching his hands to a table with leather straps, palms up. The therapist placed blocks of ice on each hand and showed Sam pictures of two men holding hands, so that the young boy began to associate touching men with the “burning cold.”
“The second step” was similar, but the ice was replaced with copper heating coils that had been wrapped around his wrists and hands. The heat was turned on when pictures of two men holding hands were shown, but turned off when pictures of a heterosexual couple holding hands were shown.
“The third step” … he was strapped into a chair, and small needles were stuck into his fingertips. The needles were attached to electrodes, and Sam received shocks when shown pornographic images of two men engaging in sex acts.
Understandably, following this “therapy,” Sam says he cannot get rid of that shock sensation when he hugs or shakes a man’s hand. He’s also attempted suicide several times.
From my readings on these sorts of “therapies,” forcing baths in tubs of ice and other sorts of numbing exercises are common. Electroshock treatment, often with instruments attached to the genitals, are also common.
To get to my main point for this post, Sam notes that his parents knew what was going on, but that they were willing to do “whatever it took to save [his] soul.”
With that, I want to ask, how is this form of therapy not child abuse, both physical and emotional?
The therapy involves, I would argue, forms of physical torture. Inserting needles into your fingertips? Shocking your genitals? Sounds like physical abuse to me.
And the emotional and mental consequences are well-documented. Stunting sexual development? Depression? Suicide? Sure sounds like the results of emotional abuse as well.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a handy PDF with some quick guidelines (because I don’t feel like doing any in-depth legal research at this point).
The Gateway notes that at the federal level, there’s a Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. I’m assuming there are similar laws at the state level, as they also write that there are civil and criminal statutes at the state level.
Anyway, this federal act defines child abuse and neglect as:
Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
Nearly all states have a statute for physical abuse, which is generally defined as “any nonaccidental physical injury to the child.” Statutes also exist for emotional abuse, commonly defined as “injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition” evidenced by “anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior.”
And if those statutes specific to protecting children don’t apply, how about a tort claim for intentional inflection of emotional distress?
Let’s go through the elements. (1) Acting intentionally. Check. (2) Conduct that is extreme and outrageous. Check. (Although, this is where the dispute would hinge.) (3) The act causes the distress. Duh, check. (4) Child actually suffers distress. Check.
Can someone explain to me how a parent who submits their kid to this type of conduct (and the therapists, acting as caretakers) would not fall under these statutes?
There is no evidence or support from any reputable medical society that types of therapies accomplish what they intend. And I can’t imagine religious pursuits grant immunity for abusing your kids.
So why are the parents and therapists not held liable for civil damages and criminally prosecuted, where possible?
This post has been in the works for far too long.
It might save some time to just suggest that anyone who disagrees with the idea that a church contributes to gay youth committing suicide to go watch Prayers for Bobby (or maybe I should send all my family a copy), but here I am.
In the past two weeks, the topic of how the Mormon church bullies gay youth exploded on a Facebook thread of comments between myself, my friends, and my family (my mother and my aunt).
The thread started with a simple status update by me: “Just got a random call from the 1st Ward (Mormon church) in Lakewood California asking if I wanted to give the opening prayer next week. I think I’ll pass.”
What followed was some hearty laughter from friends with comments about how the church needs to give it a rest in trying to get me to go back to church, jokes about magic underwear, and sarcasm about how I should have known that offering the opportunity to give a prayer in church was something I needed, not them.
Then, my mother chimed in: “so pete, why do you and your friends continue to persecute the mormon church? that is exactly what you accuse people of doing to gays.”
I responded, challenging her use of the term “persecuting” to describe what we were doing and to express my malcontent with her comparing that behavior to what the church does to the gay community.
From there, the conversation exploded, especially after my aunt jumped in, on the topic of the church’s connection to gay rights and bullying.
(If you want to see the thread, and are not my Facebook friend, feel free to send a request.)
To get to the root of why write today and the source of this conflict, we have to backtrack to the beginning of this “conflict.”
On October 5, 2010, in response to the Mormon church’s semi-annual general conference, especially the anti-gay remarks made by Boyd K. Packer, a higher-up in the church, I wrote about how those types of remarks hurt me as I grew up in the church and how I hated that the church still made them, considering the suicide epidemic in the gay youth community.
The post was one of my most personal outpourings, and naturally, my family responded in tow.
In chronological order: my sister Julie commented on 10.6; my aunt Leslie (the same one from the Facebook thread) sent me an email on 10.9; my sister Kristi commented on 10.11; my dad sent an email letter on 10.18; and my sister-in-law sent a Facebook message on 10.24 (she is the only one that didn’t post publicly or express willingness to do so, so I am keeping her note private).
The most contentious point of my original post, and what my aunt challenged in the recent Facebook debacle, is my stance that the Mormon church is a significant contributor to gay youth committing suicide.
Thus, with that as the backdrop, I’m going to go back to that original Elder Packer talk and really dissect (1) how hearing his words would be devastating to any closeted gay youth in the congregation (note: these “general conferences” go out to the entire church body, approximately 14 million people) and (2) how the words contribute to culture that accepts demeaning, devaluing, and bullying the gay community.
Here is the portion of Elder Packer’s talk on the subject. I’m going to break it up into three parts for my analysis.
(Note: the church changed the transcript of this talk online in an honest, and appreciated, effort to reduce the damage of the words. They also issued an excellent statement showing progress in their stance on the issue. Unfortunately, I highly doubt this type of statement reached any of the youth struggling with the issue that had to sit through his talk.)
We raise an alarm and warn members of the Church to wake up and understand what’s going on. Parents be alert, ever watchful, that this wickedness might threaten your family circle. We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes and counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the Gospel must be wrong. In the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.” Some suppose that they were “pre-set” and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father.
Now, imagine you’re a 14 year old closeted gay youth listening to that. You are wicked and you are a risk to your family unit. You are wrong. You cannot be happy. Further, you are not born with it and it can be overcome. Then there is the patronizing remark about “Would God do that to you?”
The guilt and depression those remarks instill is palpable. You cannot be happy unless you change. You try and try and try to change, but you cannot. It is who you are. So, you cannot change who you are, and who you are cannot be happy.
I struggle to follow my aunt’s contentions that this does not contribute to a youth committing suicide, but I will continue.
From my own experience, I remember sitting in the congregation as an adolescent boy and dreading when the conversation would change to this subject. It happens at almost every General Conference and at countless other times during the regular Sunday services.
Why did I dread it? Because I became paralyzed with fear.
I worried that any sort of reaction, or non-reaction, would out me. If I didn’t laugh at the jokes, they would know. If I focused too intently, they would know. If I didn’t focus, they would know. If I went to the bathroom—something I would do during any other time without worry, they would know. If I made any sudden movements, they would know. If I looked nervous, they would know.
How could you not look nervous when you are thinking about all of that?
Years ago, I visited a school in Albuquerque. The teacher told me about a youngster who brought a kitten to class. As you can imagine, that disrupted everything. She had him hold up the kitten in front of the children. It went well until one of the children asked, “Is it a boy kitty or a girl kitty?” Not wanting to get into that lesson, the teacher said, “It doesn’t matter, it’s just a kitty.” But they persisted. Finally one boy raised his hand and said, “I know how you can tell.” Resigned to face it, the teacher said, “How can you tell?” And the student answered, “You can vote on it.”
*Insert uproarious laughter from the congregation*
This part of the talk is the most irritating.
First, the analogy makes no sense. The “vote” he is referring to is the vote for any sort of gay rights. His analogy suggests that the gay community is seeking to redefine something that is innate, like a kitten’s biological sex.
Any issue that goes to a vote in the political process for gay rights relates to equality: in military service, in housing, at the workplace, and in marriage. None of those votes are analogous to the “vote” from Elder Packer’s story.
Yet, the congregation joins in laughter. I would like to think they are laughing at his horrible analogy, but alas, I’m fairly sure they’re laughing at how silly they think it is is that the gay community actually tries to get people to vote for their equality.
That laughter tears any gay youth apart, I can assure you. They are being laughed at as outcasts, as a group of people that is ridiculous for trying to make progresses to equality.
And the worst part is, the gay youth will feel obligated to laugh along. Because if they don’t, someone will see into their closet.
You may laugh at the story [about voting about the sex of a kitten]. But, if we’re not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change lives that would legalize immorality. As if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws of nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, what good would the law against – a vote against – the law of gravity do? There are both moral and physical laws irrevocably decreed in Heaven before the foundation of the world that cannot be changed. History demonstrates over and over again that moral standards cannot be changed by battle and cannot be changed by ballot. To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day
To defend his previous illogical analogy, Elder Packer makes an even more illogical analogy: that voting on gay rights will “alter the designs of God’s laws of nature . . . [that] would be impossible to enforce.”
What? Really? That makes no sense. None.
Do you want to know what will happen if gay marriage is legalized?
Gay people will get married. That’s it.
With their rhetoric and fervent opposition of equality in the political process, the church validates and condones anti-gay ideas and behavior.
And rather than ramble, I love how eloquently Dan Savage answered a question from a purportedly well-intentioned Christian around the time of my original post on this subject:
The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies about us that vomit out from the pulpits of churches that “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we’re seeing the fruits of it: dead children.
Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair.
I don’t know how else to connect the dots from the church’s conduct to gay suicides.
Actually, wait, I do (but won’t fully elaborate on these points, since it’s late):
I could cite to how high the statistics of LGBT homelessness and suicide are in Utah (higher than the national average).
I could cite to the rates of suicide and anecdotes of Mormon youth and young adults that were forced into electroshock therapy.
I could cite to the church’s massive involvement, filled with lies and deceit, in the Prop 8 political movement and case and other political fights gay equality. (I was 14-15, at the beginning of my struggle with my sexuality, when the church embarked on a national campaign to combat marriage equality in Hawaii and remember having to hear about how important it was to be involved in protecting marriage, how the homosexual committing was a threat to society, etc.)
The connection is undeniable, unless, of course, you’re illogical and live by a blind, reckless obedience to a faith that preaches against the gay community and refuses to be accountable.