Teaching Tolerance

Ferg_e - A Mom On A Mission

Hey there. My name is Ferg_e and I am a mom on a mission. My mission is to make this world a better place for my son Bradyn to grow up in. I have a few strategies in place to make this a reality, one of them is blogging about social awareness. There are so many things going on in our community that we can get involved in, small things that don't take too much time but can make a huge difference in our lives and the lives of those around us. In this segment for the San Antonio Current I will blog twice per month about local and national initiatives aimed at making the world a better place for all of us. If you want to see more of me, hop on over to my blog where I write about social causes, epilepsy awareness and our personal journey from chaos to calm in the middle of epilepsy, divorce and life.

This week I want to talk a little about tolerance. We have all seen the news reports about the multiple teenagers who have committed suicide in the recent past because they were being harassed and bullied regarding sexual choices and just didn't know how to deal with the pain and the isolation. We may not all agree about sexual orientation and right or wrong, but I like to think that we can all agree that no child should feel so alone and ostracized at home or at school that they decide the only option is suicide. (I could take that a step further and make the same statement about adults, but let's focus on the kids today.)

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless, a large number of American teenagers who come out deal with pervasive hostility, estrangement, and homelessness. Their 2006 report states that 26 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) youth who come out to their parents are told to leave home. LGBT youth make up 20 percent to 40 percent of all homeless youth in the United States, says the report, and many experience abuse both from family members and in shelters. The numbers are the highest for LGBT people of color — 44.7 percent report verbal harassment because of both their sexual orientation and race/ethnicity.

I'm old now, but I still remember how difficult high school was; that feeling of never fitting in and never feeling comfortable in my own skin. I can't even imagine how that feeling is magnified when a teenager is dealing with an issue as big and as polarizing as sexual orientation. Coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) in the United States is a tough choice and a difficult time in life. The friends that I have watched struggle with it have been concerned about so many things: the impact it will have on friends and family, will they be embraced or ostracized, will they ever find a loving relationship that will make them feel safe and happy, why can't they just be like everyone else... The people that I have watched make this announcement with the least amount of chaos all have one thing in common, some type of strong and loving support network.

These are kids and they are hurting and they are struggling and they need some love and some support. I know that I can't touch the life of every child that is dealing with major issues, but what I can do is teach Bradyn that different is okay, that kindness is paramount and that bullying others for any reason is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Ever.

What about you? What can you do to make a difference?

*** If you are a youth in crisis or know a youth in crisis please contact one of the following not for profit organizations. They are ready and willing to help.

Youth First Texas 214-879-0400

The Trevor Project 866-488-7386

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK

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