What Gay Teens Need

by Kathleen McKinley | October 20, 2010 12:22 pm

Adding to my post yesterday about the recent suicides of gay teens, I read this interesting article by Maggie Gallagher[1].

We will get to Maggie’s article in a moment. What I am seeing now in the media and the left, is an attempt to make these tragedies political. I blame culture, and they blame anyone who doesn’t support gay marriage (meaning conservatives). They equate anti gay marriage=bigotry. Which is absurd. I’m beginning to wonder if we are past a point where reasonable people can disagree without one calling the other a bigot.

So, let’s imagine a place where there is much acceptance of the gay lifestyle. Let’s imagine a place where gay marriage is legal and gay adoption is accepted. Let’s imagine from the legal standpoint the protections gays receive in regards to non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation being the best in the nation, and with a large liberal base, one can hardly find a conservative in their midst.

We don’t have to imagine. There is already such a place. It’s called Massachusetts. Not only has gay marriage been legal for years, it just so happens that Massachusetts has been tracking gay high school students for a decade in cooperation with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Interestingly enough in this gay utopia, gay teens are still profoundly unhappy.

As Maggie’s article points out:

LGBT teens are roughly four times as likely as other students to have attempted suicide in the last year.

They are also about twice as likely to report being in a physical fight at school, three times more likely to say they were injured by a weapon, and almost four times as likely as pther teens to say they missed school because they felt physically unsafe.

But that is only part of the story:

Gay students are also more than twice as likely to report having had sexual intercourse before age 13 — that is, to be sexually abused as children. They are three times as likely to report being the victims of dating violence, and nearly four times as likely to report forced sexual contact. A majority of LGBT teens in Massachusetts reported using illegal drugs in the past month. (Perhaps most oddly, gay teens are also three times as likely as nongay teens to report either becoming pregnant or getting someone else pregnant.)

Forced sex, childhood sexual abuse, dating violence, early unwed pregnancy, substance abuse —

Then Maggie asks the common sense question:

–could these be a more important factor in the increased suicide risk of LGBT teens than anything people like me ever said? (By “me” she means conservative)

The deeper you look, the more you see kids who are generally unprotected in deeply tragic ways that make it hard to believe — if you are really focusing on these kids’ well-being — that gay marriage is the answer.

She ends with this:

In 2001, gay teens in Massachussetts were almost four times more likely to have attempted suicide (31 percent vs. 8 percent). In 2007 — after four years of legalized gay marriage in that state — gay teens were still about four times more likely to attempt suicide than nongay teens (29 percent vs. 6 percent).

Whether you are looking at their faces or looking at the statistics, one thing is clear: These kids need help, real help. They should not become a mere rhetorical strategy, a plaything in our adult battles. Each of these teens is a child of God. And each one deserves better from all of us that becoming a “teachable moment” in someone else’s culture war.

I agree. Let’s stop blaming each other, and start looking at the true causes of this deep sadness. Let’s look around us in society and culture, and recognize that we need to protect our kids. These kids do not need a political answer. Adults are so focused on their own desires and freedoms that they forget that kids are affected by those same things. They are not adults, and exposing them to adult things, especially sexually, is very damaging.

Hillary Clinton told gay teens yesterday to hang in there. She said “Your life is so important — to your family, your friends, and to your country. And there is so much waiting for you, both personally and professionally — there are so many opportunities for you to develop your talents and make your contributions.”

As well meaning as that is, I can see these teens rolling their eyes. Does she understand that if these teens felt they were important to family and friends, then they wouldn’t be committing suicide?? A teen can’t look beyond the here and now. It’s just the way they are. If you tell them things will get better, it doesn’t help them at all. They just don’t see it.

What they need to understand is that even if family and friends don’t seem to care, even if they feel alone, they are not. Right here and right now, they have a heavenly Father who loves them more than words can say. They need to know they are a child of God, special and unique. But most of all, that they are loved beyond measure by Him. Their life has great worth because God created and loves them. Truly understanding that gives all of us meaning in our lives.

This should be our message. That they know they are worthy and loved. This truth goes well beyond skin color, sexuality, looks, personality, and all things that make us different from one another. This truth helps us to know that anything we struggle with can be shared and understood through God. It gives us what these teens so badly need…peace.

It’s clear by this study that all the tolerance in the world cannot give them a sense of self worth. So let’s not politicize this anymore.

Our kids deserve better than that.

crossposted at Kathleen McKinley.com[2] Follow me on twitter! @KatMcKinley

  1. interesting article by Maggie Gallagher: http://townhall.com/columnists/MaggieGallagher/2010/10/20/does_gay_marriage_prevent_gay_teen_suicide
  2. Kathleen McKinley.com: http://kathleenmckinley.com/

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