“I couldn’t make it. I love you guys.”

Earlier this month, a gay teen from El Paso, Texas, took his own life.  

He left a note that read, “My name is Brandon Joseph Elizares and I couldn’t make it.  I love you guys.”

How is it that this is still happening?  How are we allowing this to happen?  And by “we,” I don’t mean parents or schools, specifically.  According to Brandon’s parents, the school did all they could to address the ongoing bullying of their son.

By “we,” I mean society as a whole.  Adults who should have the best interest of our children—all of our children—at heart.  How is it that we still allow discourse, in the name of religion, that judges a kid and makes them feel like less of a human being?  And don’t give me the whole “freedom of religion” spiel; in the past, the Bible was used to support slavery and racism.  We don’t allow that anymore.  It seems that gay bashing in the name of religion is the last bastion of discrimination in which people can hide behind the Bible as an excuse for their unacceptable behavior.

Kids like Brandon hear discriminatory talk from the pulpit.  They hear it from lawmakers.  They hear it from adults.  The kids who bullied Brandon heard and soaked up all the same things, which only strengthened their assertion that what they were doing was right.  “You’re gay.  God hates you.  The State of Texas hates you.  My pastor and my parents hate you.  So it’s ok if I hate you, too.”

So do keep in mind, adults, that if you’re making jokes about gays or “simply preaching what the Bible says” or “just exercising my right to freedom of religion” that you may very well be feeding the flames of the same hatred that led this young man to take his life.  Brandon could be your son, your nephew, your brother.  Before you speak, ask yourself, “Would I want to say or do something that would—even indirectly—cause ANY kid to want to take his/her life?”