Blogger Mom: Stay in the Closet!

We take a mother to task for giving bad advice to gay teens at risk

Earlier this week, a blog from the Houston Chronicle caught our attention. It was written by Kathleen McKinley, a self-described devoted mother, wife and Christian, who decided she’s had enough with gay kids committing suicide. But rather than reach out with kind words and support for young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens, McKinley offered a very different kind of advice: Stay in the closet, kids.

In her tirade over gay suicide – an issue that she came across in People magazine while waiting in her orthodontist’s office, no less – she blames the parents of gay children for being, as she describes, the ones who “force views on kids.”

So let’s get this straight. It’s not so much the bullies and hate mongers out there, but the parents of LGBT kids who commit suicide who are really to blame? This woman can’t be serious, right?

Oh, but she is. Here’s an excerpt:

Am I mad at the hateful mean kids who bully and tease these teens? You bet I am. But I am just as mad at the idiotic adults who force our adult views on kids, and pull them into our adult world long before they are mature enough to handle it. The 13 year old that killed himself told his Mom he was gay. She said she already knew and hugged him. She said she just assumed that everyone else would be as accepting as she was.

Really? Have you been around teenagers? They are cruel and mean. They constantly tear each other down. It was bad when I was a teenager, I can only imagine what it’s like now. No, I don’t have to imagine how it is now. This is how it is now. Why in the world would you give teenagers a REASON to tease you? Oh, yes, because the adults tell you to embrace who you are, the only problem? Kids that age are just discovering who they are. They really have no idea yet. The adults tell you to “come out,” when what we should be telling them is that sex is for adults, and there is plenty of time for figuring out that later. Figure out yourself first. Focus on the kind of person you want to be, not the kind of person you want to sleep with. A 13 year old should not be building his life around his sexual orientation. He should be being A KID … We have sexualized our kids with movies, music, and culture, and now we have viruses like HPV running rampant before they even go to college. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. […]

We do live in a world where kids are growing up fast – but to suggest that the reason teens are bullied today is because they come out is ridiculous. Teens are bullied because they are perceived as being different or weaker or because the bully needs to affirm his or herself through violence and abuse. Stopping bullying doesn’t come down to whether gay kids are open about who they are, it relies on adults to know better and teach them to respect others.

Case in point: Gay activist Michangelo Signoreli wrote about being a bully in Queer in America when he was younger as a way to hide his own homosexual feelings. Rather than deal with them, he abused others he perceived as being gay. Coming out – in this situation- would have spared everyone a lot of pain. But to suggest that being gay is somehow a good reason for being bullied is to give the power to the bullies and the people who would rather sweep gay issues under the rug.

While we realize that the Houston Chronicle’s not responsible for this blog, it does raise questions about the sort of ingrained hate that exists in our social fabric that makes a blog like this even allowable. And it’s uncanny considering that it comes from someone who spends a lot of time waxing on about being a loving, Christian person. It’s a little like the racist who talks about all of his black friends.

We’re disappointed that this mom didn’t take the parents of bullies to task for their behavior. When kids are raised by families to believe that being gay is wrong and therefore a punishable offense, there’s a good chance they’ll act out this bigotry … in the playground, the gym class, the lunch room and on the way to class and home from school. If half as many zealots would start demanding that bullies be held accountable for their actions, we would have a lot less of it in our schools. Period.

If McKinley really believes what she writes, then our big question to her is this: If all teens should remain chaste in spirit, keeping their attractions under wraps, does this mean the straight captain of the football team should also keep quiet about liking girls?

Click here for anti-bullying resources from GLSEN.