Sunday, October 17, 2010

Demand an End to Bullying

Anti-gay bullying has always been a huge problem in many schools around the globe.  Now the issue is getting headline coverage and attention due to several gay teenagers in the U.S. who have committed suicide because they were being continually harassed and bullied by classmates.  Nowadays the bullying doesn't end when a child leaves the school grounds, it follows them home through text messaging and online social media.

This is disgraceful and disgusting and we must demand an end to verbal and physical harassment.  That means parental involvement, putting pressure on school administrators to teach tolerance and acceptance.  Children must be taught that words such as "fag" and "queer" are demeaning and hurtful, and calling a gay person those words is just as unacceptable as calling a black person the "n" word.  It means kids who aren't being bullied, but who see or hear other kids getting bullied, must report the behavior to their teachers, and teachers must take swift action.  It means kids who are being bullied or harassed must not simply accept it.  It means not approving of and laughing along with our peers when demeaning jokes are told about gays and lesbians.

In the Philippines specifically, it means that public officials must be held accountable for the bigoted and unacceptable statements they make, such as the incredibly shameful COMELEC's 2009 statement that homosexuals are "immoral," "unseemly," "transgressive," and a "threat to the youth."  Or congressman Bienvenido Abante's many deplorable anti-gay statements.  Or the crass comments made by the MTRCB's Marissa LaGuardia.  When such public statements of intolerance and ignorance are made, and then allowed to stand without reprimand, it sends a message to the youth and the nation as a whole that it's okay to be prejudiced against gays and lesbians; that it's okay to chastise and mock them.

Such statements aren't just ignorant, they're also dangerous.  They give a tacit stamp of approval for bigotry, hate speech, and hate crimes, as well as imply that there is shame in being gay or lesbian.

Stopping intolerance and bullying means we all have to do our part -- gay, straight, bi, and trans alike.  It's no longer acceptable to simply say "well bullying happens... it's normal... kids will be kids... boys will be boys."  No.  Tormenting others simply because of the way they were born is absolutely unacceptable.

It will take everyone to help stamp out this disgraceful behavior, but especially the heterosexual community.  Let's all do our part to ensure the safety and dignity of all persons, from the schoolyard to the backyard.

As U.S. first lady Michelle Obama said, "Kids will follow our lead.  They will follow our example, but we've got to set it."

For more information, you can visit "Stop Bullying Now"

Friday, October 15, 2010

How to avoid catching "the gay"

Talk about confusing.  I recently got my hands on a mini-booklet put out by the Focus on the Family organization.  As some of you may know, Focus on the Family is an American Christian conservative group which is very anti-gay and anti-abortion.  They also have a program called Love Won Out, which aims to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals through prayer and varying degrees of exorcism.

So within their information they have a handy little list to help youngsters avoid catching the germs that make people gay, written by an out-of-touch-with-reality man named Don Schmierer.  The list gives things that cause homosexuality, or so they believe.  It goes like this:

1.  The individual's self-will
2.  Looking at pornography
3.  Seeing gayness portrayed in the media and culture
4.  Having been molested
5.  Having parents who are adulterous
6.  Being seduced to do gay things by friends
7.  A failure in parenting or church leadership

Nice.  So if this were true, 100% of people should be gay.  Of course the list wasn't subjected to scientific scrutiny, and pretty much only includes things that Mr. Schmierer seems to frown on personally.

The Focus on the Family list goes on to include:

1.  Same-sex experimentation
2.  Negative spiritual influences
3.  Personality temperament
4.  Negative body image
5.  Public education
6.  Fear of or inability to relate to members of the opposite sex

Most of them are just nutty.  Personality temperament?  Which temperament?  Being too happy?  Too melancholy?  A temperament that likes watching too many episodes of Glee?  And public education...  Seriously, public education?  Again, the majority of people should be gay if this were true. 

That last one is the most interesting, however, because the organization contradicts what it has said in other publications.  In other statements they say that in their youth homosexuals feel more comfortable with, more secure with, and are better at relating to members of the opposite sex.  But in the list above they state the opposite:  that a fear of, or an inability to relate to the opposite sex can lead to homosexuality.

So, as a biologist I'm just wondering:  if being able to relate to the opposite sex can lead to homosexuality, and not being able to relate to the opposite sex can lead to homosexuality, then how does anyone become heterosexual??

At the end of the booklet they state:  "As this booklet has made clear, no one cause for homosexuality can be pinpointed."  Right.  It's really not too surprising that they come to that conclusion since they ignore biological factors.  Geniuses.

My all time favorite "cause" of homosexuality came from a wacky ├╝ber conservative website called WorldNetDaily a couple of years ago.  They proposed that soy is the reason kids go gay.  Yes you read that right.  Soy, as in soy milk, tofu, anything with soy in it.  Some people are so obsessed with homosexuality that they're willing to blame anything for it.  If it's not the devil it must be the demon-possessed bean called soy.  They may blame everything under the sun, but of course they always avoid mentioning genetics because that would prove them wrong.  That's the convenience of paranoia.

If you'd like to take a look at some supposed cures for homosexuality espoused by Pro-Life Philippines and cleverly adapted by a Filipino blogger, click here.