The Human Rights Campaign has release Growing Up LGBT In America, a truly remarkable report based on that organization's survey of more than 10k LGBT youth, ages 13 - 17. The picture it paints is at times a frightening one, with troubling statistics on bullying, suicide, homelessness, and other traumas and challenges that effect our youth.
While I would never want to diminish the pain that young LGBT people today suffer, I do think it's worth remembering that the very existence of this survey is remarkable progress. Society is rapidly shifting in the direction of seeing bullying and harassment as societal ills, rather than the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of the victims.
Not so long ago the standard response to the bullying of LGBT kids was to tell the LGBT kids to change and see their tormentors as exerting a beneficial pressure to change their "lifestyle." While this is sadly still the case in some places, it's no longer as universal as it was in my generation or that of the ones before me.
I'm reminded of a date I went on several years ago with a young man ten years my junior. I'd asked him what it was like growing up gay in rural New Hampshire, to which he replied
Well it was hard in elementary school because I was the only out gay kid so I felt pretty alone, but by middle and high school it was fine.It made me realize that his experience was, in its way, as different from mine as mine was from the generation before me. He was born after the advent of AZT, he'd always had out queer people on television, and for him it was a given that by the time he'd ready to be married he would have the right to do so (which proved true in his home state).
Just as we can't allow the progress towards social and political equality that our community has made blind us to the very real, and sometimes devastating trials LGBT youth still face, we also shouldn't loose sight of the fact that we've come an amazing way in a relatively short time.
And now, what you need to know today: