If you have not yet read the Rolling Stone article, "One Town's War on Gay Teens" by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, you might want to do so.
I had written a rather long editorial about this. Instead, I'd rather just keep this short.
I have friends who attempted suicide. I have friends who came out to me in high school. As a camp counselor, I had kids come out to me. I had kids confide in me things that still make me wonder if I took the appropriate course of action.
More than that though, I have been bullied. I have friends who were bullied. So I can relate to this article from a few perspectives.
This story makes it painfully clear that this school board's policy played a role in these tragedies. As a writer, I can be impartial. I can look at events through the lens of the artist and stay neutral. I have to admit, when I started reading the article this morning, I had no idea how it would make me feel. Sad. Melancholy. Angry.
We have so many words for pain in the English language. I don't know that any of those words can really describe what those families, and the students of that district, are going through and have gone through.
Having been a teacher, and still teaching the odd art class now, I wouldn't be able to sit idly by while that kind of abuse was bandied about. A job is replaceable, a child is not. I truly do not understand how one death was let go without the abolition of this policy, let alone nine. True, not all of those students were gay, but the fact is that suicides can spread like a disease. The policy created an environment of fear and confusion.
Fear is the mother of tragedy.
My thoughts go out to the parents and students.
Bravo to the students for forming the GSA's in their schools, if the adults won't do anything to protect these kids, at least they're finding ways to protect themselves.