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Perspective: Remember when you were in school?

Andre Hunter

Remember when you were in junior high? Or high school? Remember trying to fit in? Remember being at the mercy of the rules set by adults? Remember the angst in trying to figure out who you were as a person? Experiences obviously vary, but I’d be willing to venture most adults wouldn’t want to return to their youth.

This raises a question: If most adults would not want to return to their youth, why are some of those adults now targeting the most vulnerable kids in our midst? According to a recent Centers for Disease Control study, LGBTQ kids experience bullying and harassment and physical violence between four and 23 percentage points higher than straight kids. Suicide rates for LGBTQ kids range between 15 and 22 percentage points higher than for straight kids.

To quote Hamlet, these kids are already bearing “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” far more than straight kids. That said, why are some adults hell-bent on marginalizing these kids more than they already are? LGBTQ kids are not a threat, whatever that threat is, to straight kids. From my long experience as an educator, I’ve learned this: LGBTQ kids only want what we all want: to be respected and accepted as people. That’s it. End of story. And for those whose mission is to make life harder for this kids, I have a message for you: mind your damn business and just leave these kids in whatever little peace they still have.

Andrew Nelson has been involved in public education in northern Illinois for more than three decades.