Recently, there was a sharp increase in cases of suicides committed by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth. Councilman Joel Burns of the Fort Worth City Council delivers a speech on the subject, connecting the growing rate with the bullying of LGBTQ and adults’ neglect of the issue. In particular, the Councilman highlights that his story is meant for young individuals rather than their parents and teachers. He shares the experience of coming out as a gay, urging LGBTQ to wait because the better times of happy memories will someday come. Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Justin Aaberg, and Seth Walsh killed themselves as a result of continuous harmful and violent harassment on the part of their classmates. Throughout the oration, trying to convey the seriousness of the matter, Burns becomes emotional and cannot hold back the tears. The following essay will attempt to examine the possible responses of LGBTQ and close-minded adults to the video, as well as changes in both perspectives.
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Intolerant adult (IA), in this context, refers to parents, school health professionals (SHP), and teachers who reject their children and students’ identity with respect to gender and sexual orientation. It can be expected that LGBTQ would feel relatable to the issue and sympathize with the Councilman. Indeed, “homophobia, biphobia or transphobia” is one of the major reasons for LGBTQ suicidal tendencies (McDermott, Hughes, & Rawlings, 2017, p. 246). Youth might find themselves nodding in agreement with Burns, recalling their own bullying experiences. Moreover, the message can improve their mental health and prevent fatal mistakes. Thus, the video would inspire LGBTQ to live and understand that they are not alone in their struggles.
It can be expected that IA would feel overwhelmed by the severity of the issue and how it is disregarded. Their strong beliefs and prejudices might be broken since the lives of their children are at a stake. Guilty of ignorance and lack of attention, parents would blame themselves for tragic losses. As for the teachers and SHP, watching the video, they would remember examples of inaction and bias towards LGBTQ students. Hence, the regret of irresponsible behavior is a common feeling uniting IA.
The reaction of both sides would be sentimental and aspiring to new changes and beginnings. Similarly to IA, LGBTQ would sense the connection to the matter since either of the parties had to deal with bullying from different angles. I might become helpless and lacking control, scared of losing or harming their children. On the other hand, LGBTQ would believe in their value, growing stronger self-esteem. Therefore, IA and LGBTQ would be poignant in receiving the message.
Changes in Views
IA might be motivated to take action with regard to LGBTQ suicidality. Some of the parents would perceive the video as a pivotal point of upbringing techniques. They may reconsider societal stereotypes and stigmas for the sake of their children. As for SHP, whose role in attending to LGBTQ bullying has been “under-examined,” would develop a more accountable attitude towards the matter (Earnshaw et al., 2019, p. 282). Their current practice of carelessness and inattention would fall under question. SHP might ponder whether their failure as a counselor is an outcome of deaths. Burns’s life example would act as an ample case that social norms and standards should not decide LGBTQ living. LGBTQ could consider school bullying as a temporary struggle, hoping for social changes. The Councilman’s emphasis on the eventual end of times of trouble would facilitate a positive outlook on the future of LGBTQ. Thereby, the youth may be stimulated to discuss mental state expect radical transformation within society, while parents and teachers may listen, understand, and accept their feelings.
Fundamental changes happen with time and an increase in awareness of the issue. Firstly, statistical data must be provided as evidence of great concern for school safety for LGBTQ students (Abreu et al., 2016). Information on suicidal rates and bullying of heterosexual and non-heterosexual people has to be compared to build a strong link to bigotry. Names of children who committed suicide as a consequence of constant bullying must be revealed. Their painful stories should be uncovered and serve as a motivation for actions. Additionally, parents need to learn how to have a conversation about sensitive topics without judgment or partiality. They might take courses or receive a special consultation with a professional psychologist. LGBTQ youth need to talk to and engage with adult ones so as to ensure that happier days will come. Whenever they feel vulnerable to suicidal thoughts, children need to be able to speak to grownup LGBTQ. Thereupon, facts and practical examples will help radical alterations to translate into reality.
In a nutshell, the speech made by Joel Burns would lead to the disclosure of the LGBTQ children’s burdens of bullying to death. They might be encouraged to discuss the school problems and reconsider their life choices, anticipating progressive changes. On the other hand, parents and teachers may rethink their narrow-minded opinions on gender and sexual orientation. Nonetheless, it must be supported by factual materials and real-life illustrations of the existence of a healthy LGBTQ environment.
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Abreu, R. L., Black, W. W., Mosley, D. V., & Fedewa, A. L. (2016). LGBTQ youth bullying experiences in schools: The role of school counselors within a system of oppression. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 11(3-4), 325-342.
Earnshaw, V. A., Menino, D. D., Sava, L. M., Perrotti, J., Barnes, T. N., Humphrey, D. L., & Reisner, S. L. (2019). LGBTQ bullying: A qualitative investigation of student and school health professional perspectives. Journal of LGBT Youth, 17(3), 280-297.
McDermott, E., Hughes, E., & Rawlings, V. (2017). The social determinants of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth suicidality in England: A mixed methods study. Journal of Public Health, 40(3), 244-251.