The revelations this past week about gay teens committing suicide should not be a matter for debate, but rather it is a call to action, especially for parents who have children in school at any level. While bullying isn't necessary a learned trait, intolerance of those who are different starts at the home. And even if our parents are accepting of those who are different, if they happen to be religious, they subject their children to unintentional prejudices through religion.
For instance, if you are born a boy in the US, the majority of parents opt to have the child circumcised. Because it is a required practice of the Jewish faith around the turn of the 20th century was promoted by Christian faiths through the AMA under the guise of preventing infections when it was actually designed to help prevent boys from masturbating. Some parents have stated that they don't want their boy to be stigmatized in school when he gets older because he is different. The procedure is extremely painful for the infant, sometimes results in terrible mutilation, and takes place without the consent of the infant. But over the years it has become accepted procedure. But these same parents would never think about having the same procedure done on their daughters. In fact, the practice carried out in some parts of the world is considered abhorrent.
The other method by which parents are cruel is to force their kids to join their church. Essentially it is the same indoctrination techniques that cults use. You subject a small child who can't read and have them listen to stories under the precept of a loving God and then tell them that they will risk their immortal soul if they don't believe or don't live their lives as the religion dictates.
Then we send them to school and anyone who is different, gay or otherwise becomes a target. Why? Because we are taught early on that you must be part of the crowd. If you a different then it is unacceptable.
As a gay man, I have often had African-Americans tell me that the fight for equality for LGBT's is nothing like that for them. And at first I didn't understand why they would say that. But you know they are absolutely right! The fight for acceptance and being treated equally as a LGBT is a lot harder. We are not defined by the color of our skin, religion or sex. We are not defined by slavery. We have the distinct honor of having to fight centuries of religion, race, and sex.
Many teens start walling off parts of their lives from discussion with parents. It's a natural part of the growing up process. Some of this is starting to assert ones independence, but for a teen that is trying to cope with homosexuality and keeping it a secret from parents and friends, the emotional strain can reach a critical mass resulting in what the media has been focused on this week.