Tuesday, February 26, 2008


At last the mainstream media is picking up the Lawrence King story: NOT!

Huffington Post is reporting today that Anderson Cooper had announced that Monday night's CNN 360 show would run a segment on the murder of Lawrence King. In blog comments prior to the show, Cooper suggests that the bullying of this gay teen did not receive the attention it deserved from parents and school officials.

Cooper prepared a segment on the Lawrence King murder, which CNN then cut from last night's program, while running a segment on a boy singing in his underwear. More on this shameful story, along with a clip of the segment that was cut, may be found at


In my blog discussions about gay issues at the National Catholic Reporter blogsite, I am learning quite a bit about some of the reasons underlying media avoidance of such stories, as well as underlying reasons for schools' refusal to address the problem and for the shameful silence of the churches.

One blogger with whom I've been in dialogue speaks of religious freedom--specifically, of the right of "Christians" not to accept LGBT people.

To which I wish to respond: religious freedom ends where hate begins. Religionists have a right to believe whatever nonsense they want, and that right should be respected. If members of a religious group want to believe that the moon is made of green cheese (and that God so made it 2000 years ago on the first day of creation), I'm all for the right to hold this belief.

What I resist and will keep resisting is the use of religion to support or foment hatred. In a civil society comprised of many different types of people, religion cannot be allowed to fray the threads of the civil social contract that holds us all together.

Another blogger at the NCR site resists the notion that youth can be identified as gay or lesbian at an early age in schools. In my view, this resistance is counter-intuitive. As the case of Lawrence King demonstrates, schoolchildren are often very quick to identify a classmate as gender-inappropriate and to harass that child precisely and solely for this reason.

Underlying the squeamishness of some citizens--and some church members--to entertain this possibility is, I would suggest, a fear that when those of us who are openly gay or lesbian report such experiences from our own younger years and ask for bullied youth to be protected in schools today, we're recruiting.

This strange fear on the part of the mainstream overlooks the reality that youth are, in fact, often identified as gay-lesbian or gender-inappropriate at an early age, and bullied for this reason. And when this happens, schools often do nothing at all to protect the tormented youngster. Parents sometimes even cheer the bullying, maintaining that they have a religious right to teach their children to oppose homosexuality.

And through it all, the churches remain silent. Children are being murdered in our nation, and the churches will not address the problem. This is shameful.

As I have testified in previous blog postings, as an openly gay educator, I myself experienced severe reprisal from a supervisor when I was charged with leading faculty in a project of preparing students for civic engagement. To be specific, I was punished for suggesting on a single occasion that faculty look at GLSEN--Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network--as a resource for civic engagement. This was in a church-affiliated university that claims to deplore prejudice against gay people.

Why do I keep reporting this? Because it has to be said. Because mainstream media outlets collude with the churches in keeping silent.

Because children continue to be bullied and murdered.

And because, as a believer, I cannot remain silent and live with myself.

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