Sometimes the topic of free speech really bugs me.
Should we have the right to express our thoughts freely in any way we please? Yes, absolutely. It’s one of the great ideals on which the country in which we live was founded, and no one in their right mind would ever seriously debate whether the right to free speech is valid or not.
But it seems that with each passing day, people are more likely to use the right to free speech as an excuse for derogatory or discriminatory behavior. You have the right to think and believe whatever you wish, and you have the right to voice those thoughts and beliefs. But does that mean you should? Simply having a right doesn’t necessarily mean you need to exercise it. Some opinions are enormously damaging when voiced in a harsh way, and they certainly give birth to some severe consequences.
I feel like these consequences are, for the most part, completely ignored by society as a whole. And that’s why one topic in particular makes me sad.
I’ve lived a great portion of my life listening to the opinions of those who think homosexuality is a sin, immoral, vile, or unnatural. I’m going to list a few statistics and various subjects of expansive research, and then make my point. Bear with me.
Research shows that LGBT youth experience a heightened level of rejection from their families. Research shows that those who experience a high level of rejection from their families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide. Research suggests that between 30% and 40% of LGBT youth have attempted suicide. About a quarter of students and employees have been harassed based on sexuality. In many states, it is still legal to terminate an employee for being gay. LGBT students are three times more likely to feel unsafe at school than their heterosexual counterparts.
And 34,000 people kill themselves each year, heterosexual and homosexual alike.
First of all, I feel it is necessary to point out that these statistics are based on studies conducted in the past few decades on LGBT youth. In other words, studies done regarding youth who are confirmed to be LGBT. But because so many hide the nature of their sexuality, especially when they’re young, it’s impossible to know for sure how high those numbers might get.
I’ve heard a lot of people voice the opinion that homosexuality is a dirty, unnatural lifestyle by listing many of the same statistics I just provided. In other words, the fact that homosexuals are more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol or take their own lives is seen as an inherent part of their nature. To me, of course, that is completely absurd.
When you dismiss and fight against an entire group of people, when you make them feel unsafe, when you attack them and beat them and take their lives, when you call them unnatural, when you associate them with the devil, when you tell them that God does not love them, when you make them wonder whether or not their friends and family will still love them when they discover the truth, and when you place the all of that pressure and the unanimous weight of society’s continuing and communal belief that homosexuals are second class citizens when compared to their heterosexual counterparts–when you do all of that, then I wonder how you can be so surprised that they might just be more likely to drink or do drugs or try to take their own lives.
In addition to everything else, you’re essentially blaming them for everything that you caused. They drink, they do drugs, and they take their own lives because they are trying to escape you, not because it’s their fundamental disposition.
When I hear about a child who has taken their own life, I can’t help but feel a twinge of guilt. That maybe I could have done more to protect them, or done more to help them. A simple hug may have sufficed.
So when kids feel this pressure and take their own lives, it appalls me that some people can still make any attempt to justify their hatred or disapproval of homosexuality, no matter how minor. Those same people are responsible for everything they associate with the people they hate; the rampant alcoholism, the drug addiction, the suicidal tendencies.
Don’t blame people for an effect when you yourself are the cause.
Voice your opinions if you feel they are justified, but think about and try to understand the consequences that may result. Take responsibility when they do. If you’ve voiced any kind of negative thought on the subject of homosexuality, understand that you are partly to blame when an LGBT child kills himself.
34,000 people die of suicide each year. How many of them are gay? That’s a lot of families, and friends of families, who have felt the effects of those hateful words.That’s a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, and a lot of tears that have been shed. Was it really necessary?
Cause and effect. Please try to understand the difference between the two.
Whether you agree or disagree, please share this post with your friends and family. Please, please, please consider voicing your support instead of voicing your disgust. It really does make a difference, and pouring some positive energy into the world is a lot more meaningful than doing the opposite. Thanks!