Kids form clubs to find support, not judgment

Published 11:50 am Friday, November 12, 2010

To the Editor:

When the (“Sisters united, siblings start Gay Straight Alliance,” Nov. 3) article appeared on the front page, I knew there would be letters to the editor.

I would ask the writer of the letter published in the Nov. 5 issue (“Alliance seems self-serving”) to try to understand that “coming out” is not so much about declaring “sexual orientation” as it is a brave acknowledgement of a lifestyle that is pervasively shunned in our society. It is a declaration of self-acceptance and a request for acceptance from others.

I was disappointed at the choice of wording in the article, which made reference to Hannah being bisexual, then “deciding” she was a lesbian. Sadly, this perpetuates the myth that being gay is a choice.

Teenagers are already struggling with identity issues on many levels, and trying to “fit in” with parental and societal expectations makes it even harder. Many young gays pretend to be straight, or they simply live a straight life because they think it might “fix” them, since they have been told that homosexuality is wrong.

The suicide rate among young gays is very high. They are being told that their “core being” is bad.

Kids form clubs, just as adults do, to be with a group of others who share common interests and concerns, to help and support, and to enjoy each other’s friendship without judgment. There is simply nothing unusual about it.

If you’re an avid hunter, for example, you probably don’t want to spend your free time with the folks from PETA.

It took until 1976 before Title VII to the Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination based on race, gender, religion and veteran status, followed soon by laws to end discrimination against handicaps/disabilities, and age. We all know that laws don’t change opinions, but they do establish how society must treat those things that we cannot change about ourselves, including sexual orientation.

There are fears on both sides of the fence. Fostering education, understanding and acceptance in our younger generation may preclude the need to legislate this issue in the future. I hope so. Judge not.

Gayle Schmitz