I stumbled across a news article today that I felt the need to address. It was in Rolling Stone, about a town in Minnesota that has seen a sharp increase in teenagers committing suicide ever since the school district implemented a policy demanding staff remain completely neutral on topics involving homosexuality. This policy was so vague that teachers and other members of staff became afraid for their jobs, and as such, they completely stopped acknowledging the existence of any sexual orientation that was not the accepted norm. This in turn led to the administrators and staff members of the schools in this district to ignore bullying related to homosexuality and tell students who complained about bullying to just ignore it.
They failed thousands of kids.
Not only did they fail the many kids who were bullied for their sexual orientation, but they failed the kids doing the bullying. These kids were taught that it was okay to treat people that identify as gay as second-class citizens. I am afraid of what their future holds, as well.
According to the article, over 700 kids in this school district were evaluated for serious mental health issues in the 2010-2011 school year alone. These kids were having suicidal thoughts, cutting, and showing symptoms of depression. Some of them were even hospitalized. The policy was put into place in 2009.
Some of the kids who died were as young as 13. I cannot describe the horror I feel at knowing that someone so young is now gone simply because they did not have the support system available to them to be able to cope. I want to do something. I want to help. And I know I can't really do anything - I haven't the money, or the time, or the transportation to do anything that would have any effect. I don't know how to be a mentor. I don't know how to change laws, or fix things.
There was a web comic that covered this topic in November of 2010. I want to have giant posters made of this comic and hang one up in every middle and high school in this country. I want these kids to know that it does get better, that high school is most assuredly not the peak of your life, because if it is, that's just sad. There is so much more they can be, there is so much more they can do, if only they give themselves the chance to achieve it, to see it. I want them to see that they will be stronger, more interesting people after high school than their bullies, and they will go on to soar if they stick it out.
I want them to know it gets better.