I did not choose to be straight.
Every time I hear someone say that being gay is a choice, I laugh. I cannot help but then imagine whether the person that is saying this decided to be straight. Did they sit there and consciously decide who to be sexually attracted to? Are they admitting that they could be gay if they did not decide to be straight?
Put yourself in the reverse shoes. Can you imagine forcing yourself to be gay just to fit in? I can’t. I’d “choose” to love Alex anyway, even if meant I had to become a pariah in some circles.
This morning I began my day by perusing the New York Times on my phone. I’ve found that this tactic is far more effective than the snooze button because it forces my brain to wake up and gives me something to look forward to… Yes, I am a nerd. Yes, I also look at Facebook, which is why you may get 5:55 AM messages from me.
Back to the subject at hand, I woke up to an article on gay students being bullied and committing suicide in Minnesota. The school district has a policy that teachers “shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation” that has resulted in many teachers ignoring or mishandling the bullying of gay students. Apparently, it is difficult to address the bullying of gay students without also sending a message that gay students, and thus being gay, should be accepted.
I find this appalling. As a country, we have more-or-less figured out how to accept different religious beliefs, but many of us still refuse to accept different sexual orientations to the point that young people are killing themselves as not to have to go to school. At my own high school growing up, I remember being filled with anger as I listened to the football players harass two boys in my PE class, ruthlessly calling them fags, among other things. If I only knew then what I know now. If I only had the courage then that I have now.
Even though I clearly believe that being gay is not a choice, (nor something to be ashamed of), I do not understand why acceptance of homosexuality in schools is interpreted to be the same thing as endorsement. I also do not understand how those teachers could interpret the district policy as a directive to underplay the bullying of gay students. As a teacher, I understand that sometimes bullying is difficult to pinpoint, especially since there is always more to the story than shared. However, acceptance of all students is non-negotiable for me. I do not understand how, regardless of core beliefs, it could be negotiable for anyone else.
My heart goes out to all of the students in this article and all of the people in this world that get mistreated for being themselves.