LGBT suicides raise questions about churches’ stance on homosexuality
Last month an appalling case of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) sentiment was brought to my attention with the suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer in Buffalo, New York. Constant bullying and resentment from his peers was a primary factor in this case; even after his death, students felt compelled to chant “he’s better off dead!” at the school prom.
Clearly they were unrepentant for the part they played in this tragedy.
Now I have learned of a similar case here in Ontario: 15-year-old Jamie Hubley of Ottawa committed suicide on Oct. 14 and documented his struggle with acceptance as the only openly-gay teen at his high school. The parallels between this situation and the aftermath of Rodemeyer’s suicide are stunning.
What can possibly drive children to be so incredibly cruel to one another? Why are LGBTQ youth disproportionately represented in the statistics for suicides in this age group? Why does anti-LGBTQ bullying carry such a sinister tone, going far beyond the limits of other potential forms of discrimination?
There is an answer to all of these questions, and I am certain that the parties with a vested interest in maintaining the current atmosphere of exclusion and bigotry will not like to hear it. The fact of the matter is anti-LGBTQ bullying has become so incredibly harmful, at least in part, due to religious institutions and the words of their leaders, who have become complicit in the promotion of discrimination.
Jamie Hubley’s funeral was to be held in a Catholic Church. I have no knowledge of his family’s religious beliefs nor his own, but I think it’s incredibly vital to see firsthand the source of the homophobia that isolates countless gay teens around the world. This is an excerpt from the Catholic Catechism, which bases its authority in scripture from the “good” book, in Leviticus 20:13. Here you will see why tolerance has been made impossible:
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law …. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
There is a reason why you can never find a secular argument against things like gay marriage or even simply LGBTQ toleration, because there is no logical secular argument against homosexuality. People who harbour a deep-seated fear or hatred towards the LGBTQ community do so for irrational reasons, often learned as they are brought up in an environment that exposes them to the aforementioned Levitican tripe. Anti-LGBTQ bullying is so incredibly devastating precisely because this longstanding religious tradition not only allows for discrimination, but it also provides it with a moral stamp of approval.
I commend religious moderates for speaking out against the ardent homophobia of fundamentalism, but I think this is an important dilemma to raise: you can choose to support scripture as inerrant, or you can choose to apply reason and empathy and develop your own moral understandings free from scriptural obedience.
The time has come for the moderate majority to make a choice. What is yours going to be?