Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘Sexual orientation’

A lesson of tolerance from the Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts of the United States of America

Girl Scouts of the United States of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a decade of statistics evidencing sexual violence against females in America tell a sobering story that, if we are truthful, comes as no surprise.

  • In 1995, of the 126,000 children who were victims of sexual abuse, 75% were girls.
  • In 1997, girls 16-19 were four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
  • In 1998, one of every six or 17.7 million American women were the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
  • In 2003, nine of every 10 rape victims were female.
  • In 2006, 232,960 women or 600 women everyday were raped or sexually assaulted. *

Females are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual violence perpetrated by heterosexual men.  Nonetheless, to their credit, women, for the most part, do not condemn the entire heterosexual male population for the epidemic of violence against them in this country. If they did, society as we know it would cease to exist. Few women would endanger themselves or their daughters by living under the same roof with a man whose heterosexual orientation was the root cause of female sexual abuse.

To condemn an entire group for the acts of a few is a hallmark of intolerance and prejudice. The Girl Scouts of the United States of America, an organization devoted to the well-being of America’s girls and young women, has refused to so broadly blame heterosexual men. Accordingly, membership in the organization as adult volunteers is open to both women and men 18 years and over. The organization uses screenings and reference checks conducted by independent, third-party agencies to protect girls and young women from potential volunteers and staff who might cause them harm. See, http://www.girlscouts.org/for_adults/volunteering/volunteer_faq.asp.   This approach seems to have worked.  We have not heard stories of sexual abuse within the Girl Scouts or of its supporters demanding the prohibition of heterosexual males from serving as volunteers.

On the other hand, by refusing to accept gay scouts or permit gay volunteers, the Boy Scouts of America has condemned the entire gay population for sexual violence against boys. In a change of policy, the organization now allows gay youth as scouts, but continues its prohibition against gay volunteers. Some view this change as a step in the right direction. Others view it with fear and trembling. In actuality, the new policy is morally inconsistent and perpetuates the BSA’s blanket condemnation of gay men. The BSA and many of its supporters use their homophobia as a shield against a simple and, perhaps, inconvenient truth. Sexual orientation is not what makes either a heterosexual or a homosexual man a predator. The BSA’s new policy is only an expression of the organization’s continuing prejudice and intolerance, both of which the BSA has no right to teach our children.

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* Http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims, and http://.now.org/issuew/violence/stats.html.  See, National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, 1998; U.S. Department of Justice, 2003 National Crime Victimization Survey, 2003; U.S. Department of Health $ Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 1995 Child Maltreatment Survey, 1995.

Schools are scary places

As if we needed another reminder, the horrendous tragedy in Newtown hits home again. Our children are not safe in school. Once there, they are open to harm not only from intruders, but from insiders as well.

We all now know that the carnage in Newtown occurred when a young, disturbed man from the community committed murder upon murder in an elementary school. Though rare, this type of slaughter is not rare enough, but when it happens it instills a terror that will haunt our children for a lifetime.

Sadly, our schools are also a place where terror of another kind much more frequently occurs. This terror stems from a threat within the social population.  The threat is relentless. It occurs virtually daily. It terrifies our children. It affects their emotional, mental and physical well-being. It results in our children not only hating school, but hating themselves. Bullying is the threat, and it knows no boundaries. It can affect any child who is different from the bully, whether, for example, the child is gay, obese, challenged or of another race or religion.

A 2002 report by Public Health – Seattle & King County entitled Bullying and Biased-Based Harassment in King County Schools, http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/data/youth.aspx , found that:

  • Almost half of the gay, lesbian and bisexual students reported having been harassed based on their perceived sexual orientation; and
  • Students who have been harassed based on their perceived sexual orientation are more than six times as likely as their peers to report having carried a gun to school in the measuring month (10.4% vs. 1.7%).

That means over 10% of our gay, lesbian and bisexual youth who were harassed freely admitted to carrying a gun to school for protection. Gun carrying for protection is not even the worst of the statistics. Here’s one that will bring fear to a parent’s heart:

  • 23.2% of students who have been harassed based on their perceived sexual orientation reported having attempted suicide in the measuring year – more than three times the rate of their non-harassed peers (23.2% vs. 7.1%.).

Because of ignorant bullies, OUR CHILDREN ARE DYING, whether in body, in mind or in soul. As with the threat to our children from outside the school, the threat from within its walls has got to stop. Our precious children deserve no less.

Image courtesy of: http://www.buffaloschools.org/Burgard.cfm?subpage=85471

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