The Houston Chronicle recently posted an article by Mommy blogger Kathleen McKinley, a self-professed Christian and conservative activist. McKinley had expressed her distain and horror over all the gay teen suicides as of late. Her advice? Tell queer kids not to come out.
"There is NO reason to flaunt sexuality of ANY kind that young," McKinley wrote. "If my 13 yr old had told me he was gay, I would have hugged him...I would tell him that he could always talk to me about his feelings, but for now I would want him to see if he likes playing trumpet in the band. I would encourage him to join the debate team, hang out with friends...ENJOY LIFE. Your sexuality isn't your life."
I wonder how 13 year old Seth Walsh would have responded if his mother said, "Your sexuality isn't your life." Would that have fixed Seth's depression? Would bullies have ignored Seth if he had ignored himself? Would he still have hung himself from a tree in Tehachapi, California?
Or eighth grad Asher Brown - would he have shot himself if he had pretended he wasn't gay? Brown's family, who said he was "bullied to death," told reporters that kids taunted Brown for being gay and some of them "performed mock gay acts on him" during gym class.
Everyone has the right to their own opinion. McKinley's blog post reflects her passion that parents are responsible for queer young adult suicides. I would like to respectfully respond that telling kids to bottle up emotion cannot end well. In the same way, if a teenager approached her parents about pursuing sculpting, facing puberty, fear of spiders, depression, a friend's personal rape story - would it be a smart idea in any of those cases to say, "Just don't think about it. Bring that up again in ten years?"
Moreover, McKinley disregards the influence of bullies. If she were to have said that parents are to blame because they haven't taught their children how to not be a bully, I am confident she would have gained instant support from readers. McKinley has the right idea. Parents might be a source of dramatic change, but their influence would be much more effective teaching kids to accept one another rather than teaching kids to avoid their "adult problems," as McKinley puts it.
In the few hours since her blog post went live, McKinley has been bombarded with negative feedback, as well as a few supporters. The debate continues to unfold on the Houston Chronicle.