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Journal Writing Project - "Straight" discrimination

Sat, Feb 12th, 2011
Posted in Journal Student Writing Project

Sexual orientation. It is something that has become a huge issue both nationally and state-wide, and commands a great amount of attention. However, I can't make it through a single day without hearing the terms gay and homo being used among my peers casually and with incredible ignorance. It is the observances I have made in my school and in the student behavior from other schools that I base this cry for tolerance on. What we have on our hands is prejudice. Our nation had a civil rights movement concerning African-American tolerance, and while being gay can be not as immediately distinguishable as being black, I think homosexuals are a group that has had much intolerance directed toward it, at least from people in my age group.

This past fall, the intolerance towards homosexuals in our nation hit a tragic high; five homosexual teens from across the country, and one as young as 13 years old, committed suicide. The bullying and the feeling of not being accepted for who they were drove them to a point of no return that really should never be considered in the first place. These actions prove how cruel our "straight" world can act towards those people who have a different sexual orientation, if it drives them to take their own lives. Now, I can hardly accuse anyone reading this article of acting this way towards homosexuals, but I can accuse many students in our school systems that use the word gay to describe something that they don't particularly enjoy, and the word homo as a way of saying that they don't like someone.

We all should know how differently the term "gay" is used in today's language in comparison with centuries ago. The proper term for today's gay is homosexual and it essentially means "same sex," while the classic definition of gay means "with merriment or gaity." However, I think today's use of the word gay in describing things, ideas, and/or people who are not homosexual is very unfair and, as the example prior attests, harmful. I'm sure that there are gay homosexuals, but I'm also sure that there are gay heterosexuals. If you didn't get that last statement, then you need to go back to the beginning and re-read the definition I provided. Using language in this manner is, in a sense, placing things that hold little importance to us in the same boat with those people who are homosexual. Homosexuals are still people and we should never, ever consider them as lesser beings, or inanimate objects.

Speaking in terms of the law, politicians argue about gay rights assuming all the while that our nation is divided into pro-gay and anti-gay groups. I think it is unfortunate that there are people who cannot tolerate the differences among our human species. Our national government recently made a liberating decision when it repealed, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a law prohibiting the enlistment of openly homosexual men and women into the military, or those who are in the military from revealing their sexual orientation.

Many people reject homosexual persons based on their religious beliefs. I don't think religion should influence our individual opinions or policy about whether homosexuals should have certain rights, such as marriage. I think that most religions say enough about how humans should be treated fairly. We are not created or developed equally, but our natural human rights of dignity and self-worth demand that each human being be treated equally. It is not difficult to show a fellow human being respect, so why should it matter if that person is "gay" or not. This concept, though we may understand it, may be hard to live by once we open we mouth to speak, and this is the crux of the issue for people my age.

I realize that certain language, if used over and over again, is difficult to cut out of our vocabulary on the spot, but I hope that we will become more conscious of what we are saying. The way many of my peers use the words gay and homo could not only hurt those people who are actually "gay," but it will severely limit our perspective and tolerance in life. Many may think they sound cool when they say it, but that feeling is false; to a person only listening to their conversation, they might sound idiotic. Let us prove to ourselves that we are capable of building people up instead of taking the easy road that many people are choosing and tearing them down. Hopefully, we all can realize the impact our words have and begin to act more tolerantly. We are in this world together, gay and straight alike.

Anton Adamek is a student at Fillmore Central High School. He is one of 10 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its twelfth year.

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