Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Nation Is Shook Up Over The Suicides If Five Students

I am glad that we are now talking about bullying and harassment in schools, I am sad that it took five deaths in three weeks to get the media attention. This is a national a problem, not just a LGBT issue; we have to look at the causes that are driving our kids to suicide.

There is a new movement to let kids know it will get better, which is a great idea, but we also have to work to go after the causes that drove them to the point to where they are considering ending their lives. We have to look at not just their school environment but also the national culture that drives the micro culture of their schools. In an opinion article in Religion Dispatches, Cody Sanders writes that,
My indignation grew as I shifted my gaze from the individual acts of suicide to the contexts in which these suicides are set. Suicide takes place for numerous reasons. Some seek relief from enduring physical and psychological pain that seems infinitely unrelenting and others after severe bouts of depression. These teens, however, were not seeking relief from some persistent, internal state of depression or physical illness. The pain they faced had an external source — the cruel, unremitting, merciless, pounding of daily humiliation, taunting, harassment and violence.
We must address the relentless pressure that they see ever day, in the news, on the internet, in the movies and on TV shows. Cody goes on to say,
Our response to bullying is a response to violence. Beyond the inflicting of individual pain, violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has effects far beyond the individual target. This is what Iris Marion Young terms “systematic violence” in her famous “Five Faces of Oppression.” It is a violence of instrumentality — violence with the effect of keeping an entire group subjugated and in a state of oppression.

Young argues, “Members of some groups live with the knowledge that they must fear random, unprovoked attacks on their persons or property, which have no motive but to damage, humiliate, or destroy the person”.* The only thing one must do to become victimized is to be a member of a particular group (e.g. to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender). We must widen our perspective from individual acts of bullying and violence to the instrumental purpose these serve in subjugating LGBT people to particular religious and cultural ideologies in which reality is defined from a strictly heterosexual perspective — and gay and lesbian people become non-persons.
We must challenge those who try to dehumanize LGBT people, affirming churches must speak up and speak up against the hate and bigotry. It must come from them, religious organizations because they can speak as equals when they call to end the hate. When the news media uses far right Christian denominations to speak about LGBT issues, the moderates must speak up and demand equal time to express their views. When you hear someone expressing their family values of hate, intolerance and bigotry they cannot be the only voice out there, you must speak up and declare your family values. When you see educators looking the other way at bullying or harassment, you have to speak up. Not just for your children, but for other children as well.

We need to bring about a cultural revolution and in order to do it, we need everyone’s help. We need the LGBT community to take the lead, but we also need the leaders of all the communities, religious, black, Latino, liberals and also conservatives to take action. We need to say, yes we can have our differences but we are all against violence, intolerance, hate and bigotry.

* Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference. p. 61

No comments:

Post a Comment