A little over a week ago, Jack Reese, an Ogden, Utah high school student committed suicide. He was gay and a victim of homophobic harassment. But if you read about him, he was just a regular teenager – he liked to draw, was interested in Japan, had a boyfriend, and liked to play XBox. Because his sexuality was different from others’, did that justify harassment, assault, or battery that was so pervasive that it drove him to hurt himself?
In a great editorial, the Salt Lake City Tribune wrote that people’s attitudes about LGBT youth need to change for this harassment – and its sometimes tragic results – to stop. But that’s not all –
They learn from legislators who refuse to extend civil rights to gays and lesbians that “those people” are not as valuable as straight people.
The country is beginning to come to terms with the notion that homosexual Americans are still Americans, regardless of their sexual identity. Their rights aren’t diminished or ended based on whom they love. It doesn’t matter, frankly, whether you know that homosexuality is hard-wired in the brain, or you still think it’s a “choice” – no one should be discriminated against or harassed to the point of suicide.
The Tribune’s editorial cartoonist, Pat Bagley, created this, which perfectly encapsulates the way humanity typically demonizes things that are “different” before acceptance sets in. Sometimes, it’s a change that takes millenia. Homophobia is among the last forms of hate and discrimination that is acceptable to large swaths of the American population. It’s changing, but not quickly enough.