Over the past several weeks, we have heard far too much about our children ending their lives because of relentless bullying and harassment that has left them vulnerable and, they believed, without choices. And just when it appeared as though adults were starting to "get with the program", recognizing that they need to make the message of tolerance and acceptance part of the everyday method of operation -- including President Obama's message that bullying is *not* just part of the teenage scene -- in walks Clint McCance. In case you were not aware, McCance is a school board member at the Midland School District in Arkansas who, on his Facebook page, made his feelings clear about gays and suicide -- he approves and, in fact, he stated that the day he will wear purple is the day that all gays follow suit. He also stated that he would disown his children if they were gay. Need I say more?
Actually, I do need to say more. When we typically think of children at risk, we think of children from underprivileged households or those with learning disabilities. Rarely did our thoughts go to the adults charged with keeping our children safe as putting our children at risk.
Despite a public apology (using that term loosely) and an announcement of his resignation on CNN (Anderson Cooper), there is absolutely nothing that shows me that this individual has any intention of changing his feelings or perspectives nor has any plan to educate himself and/or engage with the gay community to begin to integrate understanding, acceptance, and tolerance into his repertoire.
The message cannot be stated powerfully enough...the safety of our children is paramount. They must be safe to be who they are regardless of their sexual identity, religious beliefs, or political views. They must know that there are people around them who are "on their side" and are supporting them as they spread their wings from childhood into adulthood, allowing them to develop their path freely and without fear.
The dialogue is starting -- a first step. Yet it is not enough. Until parents and adults step-back and consider their role in creating an environment -- whether at home, school, or the community -- whereby *all* children can be safe, we all remain responsible for putting our children at risk.