Western Tribune November 11, 2009
Gay and lesbian teens in our community may finally be getting a break this fall.
Over the past few days several events took place which offer hope to gay youth and their families. Two religion based groups, Focus on the Family and Exodus International returned to Birmingham with their harmful Love Won Out conference, which attempts to coerce parents into forcing their gay and lesbian children into programs whereby which they must conform to their heterosexual parents’ expectations.
Advocacy groups came together to protest and brought in nationally renowned speaker Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out. In addition, a peaceful demonstration was staged prior to and during the conference, with creative signs indicating both the fallacy of the programs and the truth that God loves us all, including Adam and Steve who were there with signs indicating such.
Every medical, psychological, counseling and scientific organization has agreed that sexual orientation is inherent and cannot be changed. Further research shows that efforts to do so are harmful and may put a teen at higher risk for depression and can lead to increased chances of homelessness, drug dependency and even suicide.
Studies show that up to forty percent of homeless teens are gay. Some are forced out of their home when their parents learn they are gay. Others leave because they sense rejection, knowing that who they are is not acceptable to those they expect love from.
Much publicity was created because of the conference and protest, and hopefully kids and parents were enlightened and realized there is an alternative called loving your child just as he or she is. Our hearts broke as we saw obviously upset children being driven to the conference, certainly against their will.
(Go here to read about what happened inside the ex-gay conference.)
The other occurrence of note was the recent enactment of the Harassment Prevention Act which will require local school boards to develop anti-bullying policies. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 20 year olds, and legislators took this into consideration in passing this statute.
The Birmingham Board of Education has already passed an inclusive policy that covers sexual orientation and gender identity as well as race and other characteristics often cited when teasing and hazing others.
The gay and lesbian students at Davis Middle School and Jess Lanier High School (and yes, they are there), would benefit from an inclusive policy.
Some important developments, as every child deserves acceptance at home and protection at school.