By Jim Koury, Editor, Diversity Rules Magazine
© 2011 Diversity Rules Magazine. All rights reserved
One day recently I was reflecting upon my past, specifically my childhood,. I remembered how carefree those days were. I did not have bills to pay, a boss (except my parents of course), arrogant or petty work associates to deal with or any of the restrictions that are placed upon us as adults. I was pretty much free to do as I pleased. All I had to do was go outside and play, ride my bike, go to my friends’ house, or just hang out by myself down by the Susquehanna River in peaceful solitude, which I did quite often as a child.
I, like many children, had the innocence of youth but did not realize at the time what a wonderful thing that was. Would it not be great to be able to recapture that innocence once again? The thought of being able to go through life not worrying about this or that, or having to think about who was going to stab me in the back or do some type of transgression against me just brings a smile to my face. However, that is not possible, nor will it ever be the reality of our lives again. If only, if only…..
However given our experience and knowledge of what the innocence of a child was like, we can use that to help today’s youth cope in an increasingly challenging and difficult world. I know I would never want to be a younger person or a teenager in these very trying times we live in now. We too often hear about young people committing suicide because of the perceived pressures or issues in their lives. Unfortunately, it is the adults in these young people’s lives, many times, who directly contribute to the early demise of these poor souls. This is especially true of queer youth.
Many queer youth, especially those that are closeted and trying to cope with their sexuality or gender identify, are continually told that being LGBT is a sin, is immoral and a lot of times are sent off to a therapist or some “religious” person to try to change them back to “normal.” Bravo to those parents are are understanding of their child’s issues and try to help them deal with their sexuality or gender crisis. However, not all parents are tolerant and willing to embrace their child’s diversity and directly contribute to their child’s internal conflict, and depression and in some cases, their ultimate demise at their own hands.
I have participated in a number of panels at local schools that focused on diversity, sexuality and gender identity. The forums involved grades 6 through 12 and in each panel I participated in, the response was remarkable in that the students took a sincere interest in learning about diversity and being sensitive to other people’s differences. Granted there were some who asked off the wall questions or made comments that were not really appropriate, but for the most part there was a willingness to listen and there was a distinct change in how the students interacted with each other after each forum.
After the fact, I learned that there were some parents who called the school up in arms that their child had to be subjected to such perversion and expressed their displeasure at the school administration for holding such forums. We can clearly see why our youth lose their innocence and begin to exhibit the prejudice against diverse people that we so desperately try to eliminate!
I can only surmise that in some cases where parents harbor these prejudicial attitudes, there are queer youth being subjected to this hate talk. Little do these parents know that they are harming their child in ways that are unimaginable to them. These children are listening to their parents talk ill of them and it is no wonder a child begins to feel inadequate or less of themselves. If their own parents are saying there is something wrong with them, then there must be; it must be true. Thus the cycle of low self-image, fear, hate, self-loathing, depression, and the loss of innocence begins!
Our youth is this country’s greatest asset! We need to cultivate healthy, self-respecting children who grow up to be stable, rational adults. We cannot allow nor can we stand idly by while queer youth are taking their lives for no reason other than being LGBT! We adults have lost our youthful innocence, but that does not mean we cannot use our memories of that innocence to help support and encourage our youth and to help them realize that there is nothing wrong with them and that they can grow up to be healthy, productive adults, and be queer at the same time!
Decide today, at this very moment that you will do whatever is within your means to help a child learn about themselves and teach them respect for the differences in other people. Our world will be a much better place resulting from your efforts!