An article on 365gay.com, a site touted as “America’s most read gay news,” cites that lesbian and gay adolescents are three to four times more likely to report having been bullied than heterosexual teens. This statistic is heartbreaking for a thousand different reasons, but perhaps what is most upsetting is that it isn’t particularly shocking.
What might come as a bit of a surprise is that homosexual discrimination does not simply hurt those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning
community. It can also have a negative effect on heterosexual individuals. Homosexual discrimination hurts everyone.
Deanna Wozniak is the current vice president of Archives for Temple Common Ground, an organization devoted to providing LGBTQ individuals in the Temple community with support and education.
“Homophobia hurts everyone because things can be misconstrued. The kid who is so straight it hurts my eyes can still want to act in the school play, but isn’t allowed to because his father thinks it’s ‘queenie.’ … Heterosexism and stereotypes are blocking his way as well,” Wozniak said.
Nothing proves this point more than the latest controversy surrounding Ann Coulter. A prominent right-wing writer, Coulter dropped one of the most notorious anti-gay slurs when describing Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards March 2. By referring to Edwards as a faggot during an address to the 34th annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, Coulter provided a blazing example of the persistent homophobia that runs rampant throughout America.
However, the statement is not simply offensive to members of the LGBTQ community. It is also quite baffling. Since 1977, Edwards has been married to his wife Elizabeth, who has been the focus of a blitzkrieg of media attention in recent weeks after she was diagnosed for a second time with breast cancer. Edwards is clearly heterosexual. Yet, Coulter referred to him as “the F-word that doesn’t rhyme with ‘duck,'” as Wozniak said.
By referring to Edwards as such, Coulter was insinuating that not only is there something wrong with homosexuality, but that homosexuality can also be used as a weapon to degrade heterosexual individuals. This is wrong no matter who you prefer to climb into bed with.
Fortunately, progress is starting to be made.
Same-sex marriage is being legalized in five countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, South Africa and Spain. Same-sex unions have been legalized in Massachusetts and other states. There is a new all-time-low rate of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges in the U.S. military. The world is slowly but surely growing more tolerant.
Members of the LGBTQ community and allies can contribute to their cause April 18. Temple Common Ground is hosting an event to help bring attention to the bullying, harassment and discrimination that occurs in schools. The event is part of the National Day of Silence, an event that began 11 years ago and has continued to grow since its inception in 1996. During the Day of Silence, students and teachers across America will observe the day without speaking, in order to echo the silence that LGBTQ and their allies face everyday. According to Wozniak, Temple will host the largest Day of Silence event in Philadelphia.
As the Temple Common Ground Constitution states: “As sexual minorities are integrated into mainstream society, we and our straight allies are each other’s greatest support.
“Through events like Day of Silence, let’s hope that we can stamp out this form of discrimination that negatively hurts us all.”
Erica Palan can be reached at