Polishing a Turd
The Houston Chronicle has a Mommy Blogger named Kathleen McKinley, who writes “Texas Sparkle“. Kathleen is very upset about this whole gay bullying thing. Oh sure, she mentions that bullying is bad (she spends a whole eighteen words directly condemning it!), and then spends the remaining 1362 words…blaming the victims.
You see, in Kathleen’s world, the following things are true:
“A 13 year old should not be building his life around his sexual orientation.” (Because a 13 year old straight girl who doodles “Mary Loves Mark” all over her notebooks, has posters on her walls of the boybands she crushes on, and who thinks about falling in love all the time is certainly not building her life around her sexual orientation).
“The idea of a high school club based on who you want to sleep with is absurd to begin with.” (Apparently, a club that says It’s okay if you are gay and I am straight suddenly becomes the OMG I’M GONNA BONE EVERYTHING THAT MOVES club. The concept that you can have a preference of people and not act upon that preference seems to go over her head).
“Jr. High and High School are what they are. A bunch of hormones and confusion walking around trying to find their place in the world. It is up to adults to reign them in, show them rules, give them guidance.” (That guidance is apparently not BE A DECENT FUCKING PERSON YOU LITTLE SHIT, it’s IF YOU ARE BEING BULLIED, HIDE THAT PART OF YOU TILL THE BULLIES LIKE YOU.)
“There is NO reason to flaunt sexuality of ANY kind that young.” (I hope her dear children went to school every day in sacks, never went to boy/girl dances, and never dated. It would be horrible for them to flaunt their sexuality that young. People might think she was an awful parent.)
“I would tell him that if he still feels the same way in college, then tell anyone he likes, because college is a whole different ballgame (although there certainly have been instances of humiliation and suicide there too). But the difference is that you are now an adult, and it’s time to face adult things. BUT NOT IN HIGH SCHOOL.” (The concept that children learn the bedrock of their character traits during adolescence is a concept beyond Kathleen’s ken. In her world, between the age of 13-18, every school is Thunderdome, and it’s only at the high school graduation that kids get a moral compass and realize that they probably should be decent to everyone. It’s why there are incidentally no crimes committed by adults – when they get out of high school they are magically decent folk.)
“You can grumble all day long how unfair it is that straight teens can be straight in high school, and gay kids can’t, but life is unfair.” (By all means, when you see injustice, do nothing to make it better. Make no stand. It’s what Jesus would do.)
Kathleen has a relatively powerful forum at her disposal. She could have written almost 2000 words about how bullies should be ashamed of themselves. How gay kids, and black kids, and disabled kids, and Muslim kids post 9/11, and every other type of kid out there who gets shoved around by 15 year old assholes are the true heroes for standing back up after every punch. She could have.
But, she didn’t.
She chose to further castigate these kids. She chose to teach them, ‘Whatever makes you different, hide it. And for those of you who see the bullying occur, do nothing to stop it, or you’ll become a target as well. Hope to God that your bullies, who have now learned that hurting others has no consequence, one day grow out of it. Because it doesn’t get better. People will always be awful to you – just roll over and take it.’
I taught high school for 7 years. I taught the bad high schools, the alternative schools that kids went to after they got kicked out of normal classrooms. I taught the truly dangerous. And do you know what I found? They were far more accepting of each other than any mainstream schools I have taught in. They understood what it meant to have been victimized at a young age, and how their behavior was a response to that. The cruelty I saw amongst the children were in the ‘good’ schools, the ones Kathleen sent her kids to. Yes, Texas Sparkle, kids *can* be like Lord of the Flies…because YOU permit them to be like that.
Monkey and I talk occasionally about how we will handle it if Alex is gay. He’s already biracial and bicultural (I’m not quite sure how Kathleen would like him to hide that should he ever find himself trapped in Texas), it would be like the 3 strikes rule in American schools against him. I guess all we can do is educate him – help him understand from an early age that who he is, is precious to us. That if he chooses to be a geek or a jock, he will treat everyone alike. That his hormones and age do not dictate his behavior. That the friends he makes will share those qualities, or he will not have those friends. He will be raised to stand up for the little guy.
He will understand that if he is not helping make it better for everyone, he is a part of the problem.
If only Kathleen understood that.