The road to acceptance


Last month we had the privilege of hearing Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, speak about tolerance. She said, “You tolerate a bad hair day. You accept people.” Liliana B. (11) encourages us to accept this challenge in five steps.

1.       Don’t use gay slurs: if you haven’t stopped after hearing Judy Shepard’s speech, you need to. Regardless of how you “meant them” they are disrespectful.

2.       Don’t ask a member of the LGBT community a question you wouldn’t ask a straight person: it’s important to remember that the only difference between a gay person and a straight person is who they are attracted to. Do think about how you’d feel if someone asked you the same question. If you’d be fine with it, ask them! If not, wait till you know them a little better.

3.       Don’t assume your gay friend will get along with/like the same things as/be similar to other gay people you know. Do recognize that they are individual people, and the only trait they’re guaranteed to have in common is their sexuality.
4.       Don’t refer to someone by their sexual orientation/assume their sexual orientation is their most important trait. Do consider that everyone is a complex individual with many traits, and that sexuality is just one part of his/her life out of many others.
5.       Don’t tell someone in the LGBT community that you accept them because you find their sexuality makes them more attractive to you. This is like telling someone “I don’t mind that you’re black because it makes you hot”. Do accept them for other reasons, including the fact that their sexuality does not change who they are as a person.