Tea Party Activist Claims Bullying is “Healthy”

Lately, I’ve been following the HRC’s (Human Rights Campaign) Call it Out campaign which aims to “call out” homophobia and transphobia and promote respect and civil discourse. Their latest target is Tea Party Nation’s activist, Rich Swier.

 Last month, People for the American Way (who preach against intolerance) reported on the anti-gay diatribe of TPN’s Alan Caruba, who claims that the “queering of America” is “one more factor in the destruction of America.” Now they’re launching another attack on the LGBT community, this time in the form of Rich Swier, an activist for TPN and the anti-Muslim group Act! For America. Recently, when Gulf Coast Gives launched an anti-bullying initiative, he rallied against the Florida group, saying that bullying of LGBT youth is a “sham” because “this is not bullying. It is peer pressure and is healthy.”

Gulf Coast Gives is working to raise funds to bring homosexual activist Hudson Taylor to Sarasota, FL. According to their website:

“77% of all bullying victims are picked on due to sexual orientation, gender identity, or the perception of either. LGBT youth are up to five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts. ALSO Out Youth is the only LGBT youth organization serving both Sarasota and Manatee Counties, providing advocacy, leadership, support, and outreach since 1992. Please support ALSO in bringing Hudson Taylor to Sarasota. Hudson, an outstanding athlete, is a committed LGBT advocate and founder of Athlete Ally.”

 The problem is the entire bullying campaign is a sham created by radical gay activist Kevin Jennings. Jennings is the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). As MassResistance.org reports, “The homosexual movement in the public schools has always been based on lies and deception. But until the mid-1990s, they were still having difficulty getting into the schools. Then they found the key to their huge success – what they call ‘re-framing the issue’.”

 …

This is not bullying. It is peer pressure and is healthy. There are many bad behaviors such as smoking, under age drinking and drug abuse that are behaviors that cannot be condoned. Homosexuality falls into this category. Homosexuality is simply bad behavior that youth see as such and rightly pressure peers to stop it. In Sarasota County over 70% of all HIV/AIDS cases are due to male sex with males.

I agree with Gulf Coast Gives that “LGBT youth are up to five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts.” Homosexuality, like drugs, harms young people if they experiment with it. That is the greatest tragedy.

I have several issues with his stance. For one, he states himself that he agrees with GCG’s findings that LGBT youth are more likely to attempt suicide. The Trevor Project has corroborated that figure, also stating that for every one that attempts it, twenty more try. Swier seems to think that homosexuality itself is to blame. However, study after study has shown that the majority of kids who attempt suicide, whether or not they succeed, do so because of a lack of support and acceptance. They feel they have nowhere to turn and therefore, suicide is their only way out.

In the majority of other bullying cases, students can turn towards teachers, counselors or parents. I’m in no way diminishing the difficulty kids face in these other cases, but there is a support system that can help. However, when it comes to LGBTQ youth, the fear of abandonment from their peers and family often keep them from speaking out. The problem is that they’re not always wrong.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless:

–       20% of homeless youth are LGBT. In comparison, the general youth population is only 10% LGBT.

–       While homeless youth typically experience severe family conflict as the primary reason for their homelessness, LGBT youth are twice as likely to have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 12 (as their primary reason for homelessness).

–       LGBT youth, once homeless, are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, and unsafe sexual practices. 58.7% of LGBT homeless youth have been sexually victimized compared to 33.4% of heterosexual homeless youth.

–       LGBT youth are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth.

–       LGBT homeless youth commit suicide at higher rates (62%) than heterosexual homeless youth (29%).

Seeing these statistics and knowing how fragile the psyche is at that age, I don’t see how Rich Swier can claim that LGBT bullying is “healthy.” I recently wrote an article on the Trevor Project and sited ten standout suicide cases from last September alone. Two of those boys were only 13! The families of Asher Brown [who shot himself on September 23, 2010] and Seth Walsh [who hanged himself on September 19, 2010] claimed that they were “bullied to death” and that the bullying began even before they came out. Their parents spoke with the School Board several times, but their complaints fell on deaf ears.

Rich Swier needs to understand that bullying is never ok, no matter what the circumstances. He calls it “peer pressure,” but the last time I checked, those words didn’t have a very positive connotation either. He equates homosexuality to a drug problem or smoking. But as far as I know, you don’t come out of your mother’s womb with a cigarette in your mouth. Homosexuality is not a “bad behavior.” It is not a choice. Unless you’ve been there, you might not completely be able to understand it, but most of us went through periods of denial and trying to fight these feelings when we were younger. Seth Walsh is proof of that. His grandmother Judy Walsh, a retired schoolteacher was quoted as saying: “Initially he wanted to have a girlfriend. He wasn’t happy with his orientation. He read the Bible a lot. This was not the way he wanted to live his life, but that’s what he was dealt with.” So, does Swier honestly think anyone would choose to be on the receiving end of all this hatred?

As adults in this country, it is our duty to protect our youth. Right wing activists like Rich Swier are making this increasingly difficult. All he is doing is fanning the flames of hatred, and it needs to stop. We need to take a stand against this intolerance. Please take a moment to send this letter to Mr. Swier and let him know that his comments are harmful and potentially dangerous to our country’s youth.

And as always, if you or anyone you know are having thoughts of suicide or just need someone to talk to, please contact the Trevor Project by calling 1-866-4-U-Trevor or by clicking the image below.

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One response to “Tea Party Activist Claims Bullying is “Healthy”

  1. It really is like these people come up with any excuse to put forward their hatred of gay individuals. Facts and statistics or reality seem to have no effect on their narrow and close minded points of view.

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