It seems Exodus Youth is joining an effort to promote safer schools for lesbian and gay youth. While I applaud this attempt to finally have an anti-gay group address this issue since I have never seen that before this campaign, I do find this is being used as another attempt to bash gay youth.
The program sponsored by GLSEN is designed to promote safer schools by confronting the problem fo bullying, name calling, and the ever popular among teens to say “that’s so gay” to refer to things they don’t like or feel are bad. The event to be held the week of October 15,2006 is called “Be an Ally“. Exodus is NOT joining the campaign (which is what I feel would have been a more sincere move on their part). Instead they are forming their own campaign to coincide with the GLSEN event called: “Allies Too!”
The real problem with the Exodus campaign is that it isn’t honest at all. Instead of condemning violence and harassment and joining with GLSEN to make allies of each other, Exodus Youth is doing a campaign to “educate” people to the ex-gay movement. It is impossible to view this tactic as sincere when approached this way. I am overjoyed they are speaking out about the harassment, but then they turn around and give kids a reason to harass gays.
What disturbs me even more it that this campaign tries to indoctrinate kids into ex-gay programs which is contrary to every medical and mental health association in the country. These programs have very low success rates and thousands of horror stories from ex-ex-gays, yet they are giving postcards to kids with same sex attractions and offering them false hope that being gay can be changed. When we really talk to ex-gay groups we find 1) few change at all 2) many loose hope and become extremely depressed when change isn’t happening and 3) even the ex-gay leaders admit they still have same sex attractions, although they call it “backsliding” and compare it to an alcoholic wanting to drink.
I wish more anti-gay groups would make a stand to address the harassment, violence and bullying, but I wish it could be done without giving vulnerable youth false hopes. Some of these kids are already struggling with their sexuality, some are not even gay. To give them the added risk of false hopes is just wrong. Ex-gay leaders need to let kids grow up without them confusing the issue with things that go against medical advice.
This campaign from Exodus also fails to recognize that many of the youth who are bulllyed at school are perceived by schoolmates to be gay when in fact they are not gay. The bullying problem has more to do with people’s overall perception of being gay more than any one kid actually being gay. By going into the schools with the message people can just change their sexual attractions, a message is being sent to the kids that since being gay can be changed that somehow kids have the power to change how others percieve them. A message that is not only inaccurate, but dangerous. If a kid is not gay, but student think he is, or percieve him to be, what message is being sent to this kid with a “gays can change” message? Is that kid now going to have a weaker sense of self because he hasn’t change something that doesn’t need to be changed. Exodus should just stay out of the schools if they are not there to address the problem with real solutions.
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"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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