Intolerance can be lethal

October 26, 2010

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RE “GROWING up gay’’ (g, Oct. 21): Self-hatred, self-abuse, and suicide attempts stimulated by bullying and widespread cultural disdain are issues that have existed for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth long before the media’s attention to the recent tragic suicides. I know. I work as a counselor with this population at Waltham House, a program of the Home for Little Wanderers, and one of the nation’s only residential group homes for GLBT youth. Ostracized teens come to us looking for help. Fear and isolation are just a few of the issues they face.

Core issues of gender and sexual identity can affect people’s self-esteem negatively when they experience discrimination, homophobia, and intolerance in society. This can be lethal, as the rash of teen suicides indicates. Kids don’t feel worthy, often seeing ending their own lives as the only way out, as they start to believe the bullies.

The impact is more profound as bullying escalates in the digital age with easy means of spreading threats or demeaning or private videos. Ostracized individuals and groups experience a disproportionate amount of the venom, often lacking a strong safety net to help them work their way through the attacks. Having acceptance in any realm of life is crucial in healthy development.

Lance Eaton, Waltham

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