Wow — I returned home late last night from a wonderful weekend in Milwaukee introducing Truth Wins Out to pro-LGBT Catholics from across the country, and the first thing my husband Michael did when I walked in the door was sit me down and show me this video (fair warning, you may get a little misty-eyed):
Students at Essex High School in Essex Junction, Vermont staged a sit-in last Friday to show support for and solidarity with one of their classmates, 15-year-old freshman Cole Peterson, who was allegedly bullied by two students for being bisexual. In response, his peers organized a sit-in that was attended by at least 300 students who chanted anti-homophobia slogans, made anti-bullying and pro-equality signs, and met with representatives of Outright Vermont, a local group that works with LGBTQ youth. The faculty advisor to the school’s Gay Straight Transgender Alliance addressed the crowd. Cole’s father, Duane, was also in attendance and was very moved by the outpouring of support for his son. Essex High School alumni and students from other nearby high schools demonstrated outside, holding anti-bullying signs and waving at passing motorists.
Wonderfully heartwarming, no? It also speaks to something that I and many others in the LGBT movement have been saying for a long time: while homophobia, bullying, and bigotry remain serious problems across all age groups in our society, especially in areas of the country where religious extremism still holds sway, the fact is that overall, when it comes to LGBT equality, most young people get it. They ignore the homophobic rhetoric coming out of their churches or leave them altogether. They overwhelmingly support marriage equality. And they rally around their peers who are singled out because of who they are and who they love. That gives me hope.
My favorite part of this report? The banner signed by Essex High School students and emblazoned with a quote from principal Rob Reardon: “In my 32 years here, I have never been more proud of the students than I am today.”
That makes two of us.