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Homophobia issue on campus again

Tyler Clementi, a homosexual teenager who committed suicide in 2010 due to bullying and homophobic comments. (photo/ cj.sunne.ws)

Recently on campus, there was a homophobic incident. For anyone who heard about it or was involved in it, there’s no doubting what I’m speaking about. The only reason I bring up the incident at all is that it prompted me to do something I normally wouldn’t: publicly express my opinion on a hotly contested issue.

According to Dictionary.com, homophobia is “the unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality.”

I’m not the first to say this and I doubt I’ll be the last, but this definition is somewhat flawed. The colloquial meaning of homophobia is much more akin to “behavior consisting of anti-homosexual words or actions.” Please assume, for the purposes of this article, that I’m using the colloquial meaning of homophobia.

Homophobia is wrong and malicious. Keep in mind this is my opinion; however, if you’ve ever read any of my editorials, you know I’m going to back this up.

The main way in which it is wrong is that it works to directly and indirectly cause human suffering.

For homosexuals, being gay is at the very core of who you are. It affects your life in a huge way that many people who are not gay simply cannot fully understand, though not due to lack of trying.

Homophobic speech is declaring to a homosexual person that a major pillar of who they are is something wrong and evil. Further, homophobic speech implies that homosexuals should be ashamed of it. In this way, it’s denying homosexuals their ability to be themselves, freely and openly.

Anti-homosexual speech becomes a direct means of suffering for gay people, even if this suffering is minute (as it would be with a person who has weathered a great deal of homophobia in their life).

Whether someone who takes part in homophobic speech or actions intends to inflict harm upon the object of said speech or actions matters little, it will cause them personal harm. In this way, it deals direct damage.

However the indirect damage caused by homophobia is much worse. In the past few years, suicides linked to homophobic bullying have increased dramatically. Asher Brown, Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase and Billy Lucas are just a handful of gay teenagers who have killed themselves over the last two years.

Specifically, all of these young men, four of which were aged 15 or younger, died in 2010.

These are just the famous cases. Studies have shown that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) teenagers are up to four times more likely to commit suicide than similar teens of the same age group.

Another study found that up to 30 or 40 percent of all LGBT teenagers attempt suicide at least once.

Finally, approximately one out of every four LGBT students is the target of homophobic speech or actions, which take place in their school.

As terrible as these statistics may be, it becomes worse when you discover that whether or not a child is LGBT is suspected to be greatly under-reported; this number drops further in the case of suicides as families who know their sons or daughters are gay don’t always report it. In this way, homophobic actions have directly led to many LGBT teens believing their only reprieve from hate speech, bullying and physical harassment is to end their own lives.

Homophobia and homophobic speech and actions have both directly and indirectly caused increased suffering in many LGBT teenagers across the world, and in some cases ended in the tragic suicide of a harassed teen.

It is for this reason that I ask anyone who engages in any form of homophobic actions, with intent to harm or otherwise, to take an extra minute to think over what they’re about to say, or do or post online, for the sake of compassion.

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