Bullying of LGBT must come to end

Fear is often the motivation behind deplorable acts. Fear of the unknown, of change, of oneself — these are merely excuses and not justification for bullying.

But when does teasing and taunting become too much? At what point does being menacing become being a menace to society?

It is the moment the victim feels like a victim.

These past couple of weeks, an unprecedented number of teens committed suicide due to routine verbal attacks for being who they are, who they were born. These teenagers, some younger than 13, were criticized and bullied for being homosexual.

Tyler Clementi jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge after having a video of his encounter with another male broadcast over the Internet by his roommate. Justin Aaberg hung himself in his room after ongoing verbal and physical violence from his peers. And most recently an Oklahoma teen, Zach Harrington, committed suicide after a city council debate in which members of his community spoke out against civil rights and the LGBT community. It seems these cases are not isolated; bullying is becoming an epidemic.

At what point will society change? Is it when another little boy, somebody’s son, brother, friend, takes his own life because others have attacked him for who he is? Is it when the attacker goes on cable television and the public witnesses how vile his excuses are? Or is it when believers in a faith that finds being a homosexual unnatural understand how much their hearts are full of hate?

The discussion brought on by these innocent deaths has spurred protests around the nation: against schools who did nothing, against governments that did nothing and against organized religions who continue to do nothing.

One such protest, in the ironic backdrop of Salt Lake City, Utah, has given hope to a community in the state and, in turn, across the nation.

Nearly 4,500 members of the LGBT community and their friends went to the Mormon temple last week and encircled the entire city block the church rests on twice. As they sat peacefully, many wished, hoped and prayed for others of religious denominations and for a society to fully accept them for who they are—human beings.

Peaceful protests like this and new websites like itgetsbetter.org aim to decrease not just  school bullying, workplace discrimination and the legal prejudice, but also the sense of loneliness the victims feel. Itgetsbetter.org features celebrities, journalists and politicians sharing stories of bullying and how in the end, it got easier to quiet hateful voices.

The focus does not just have to be on those who are obviously the bullies and the victims; everyone needs to reassess their own behavior. Every day there are instances where people who do not outright bully anyone use phrases like “That’s so gay.” This forwards a message of hate concealed in an act of humor, which is what most bullying is.

Do not let fear become the debilitating factor against you. Instead, promote tolerance and love by recognizing the plight of those around you. As small as that action might seem, its effect is crucial to saving someone’s life and to saving our society as a whole.