When discussing anti-bullying initiatives, many Christians are quite concerned about parents who have to deal with school curricula discussing LGBT issues by talking to their kids about these issues earlier than they’d like. Why are they so often not as concerned about parents who have to bury their middle and high school kids knowing that they killed themselves because they couldn’t handle the pain of what they were going through? Although it’s hard to collect accurate statistics, the best research we have pretty consistently shows that around one in three LGBT teenagers goes so far as to attempt suicide. We have a very real problem on our hands, one that is killing people. While no doubt bullying is not the only cause of suicide attempts by LGBT people, it is often a huge contributing factor. As Christians, we have a responsibility to consider more than just sexual ethics, and to have compassion for “the least of these” who face mistreatment and whose lives are at risk.
Of course, nearly all Christians believe that bullying is wrong, whether related to sexuality or not. However, I think we often fail to understand some important realities regarding anti-gay bullying in particular. For example, it is important to consider the broader social and cultural environments that bullying takes place within. Far too often Christians provide condemnation without grace when it comes to LGBT issues. Even in broader environments, LGBT teenagers are frequently told that they’re disgusting perverts. They may not be told so to their face, but the message is pervasive enough that it can lead to a lot of internalized shame. I definitely faced this to some degree growing up in a conservative Christian environment and finding myself attracted to both sexes, even though I wasn’t sexually active and held to a traditional sexual ethic. Many LGBT teens are hit much harder than I was. LGBT teens often feel that they are so worthless that bullying towards them doesn’t matter, and generic opposition to bullying rings hollow. I strongly encourage people to read a powerful memoir expressing this, written by a woman who is now a Christian with a conservative understanding of sexual ethics, at My Day of Silence 2009 Post, A Year and A Month Late. She describes how it seemed that everyone hated gay people, and as a result she was “drowning in a sea of hate.” She then goes on to say that it would have been helpful to know that someone thought what was happening was wrong. Let the weight of that sink in.