In follow up to Suzanne Greenfield's write up today about bullying and safe schools, I wanted to follow up with a similar topic - how kids learn to hate. Homophobia, the idea that it is "ok" to bully or harass LGBT people, is learned more often that not at home. And it doesn't take listening to a parent actively denounce LGBT people either.
One of the complaints I have heard frequently is how parents as well as teachers who witness anti-gay bullying and name-calling will turn a blind eye to it. This enables and encourages anti-gay harassment and violence. And in today's Baltimore Sun, Tim Smith's Teach Your Children Well examines the recent murder of a Baltimore 18-year old by his friends... simply for being suspected of being gay. And Smith poses a question: where did this hate come from?
Just days from graduating high school, Steven Parrish was stabbed and stomped to death by "friends" who feared he was gay. Smith notes, "Such incidents don't occur in a vacuum. Human beings don't come out of the womb despising homosexuality." They are taught by their peers, their community, their parents and in schools. A sea-change is needed in understanding the variety of human sexuality. Until that understanding and tolerance is taught and shown to young people, tragedies like Steven's will continue to happen.