Conservative political commentator Ann Coulter decided last night to make a joke about family rejection of LGBT youth.
Last Thursday was national “coming out” day.This Monday is national “disown your son” day.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 16, 2012
If you disagree with Coulter and want to stand with the millions who support and embrace LGBT young people then join us for Spirit Day by RSVPing on Facebook to wear purple on October 19 and going purple today on Facebook and Twitter.
I recognize that this is a joke, and that she is not really taken seriously in any context anyway, but with this coming right after National Coming Out Day, at the start of Ally Week and just days before Spirit Day, I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about this idea of hers.
There was a time in our culture’s history when, if thousands of LGBT kids were to come out on the same day, the next week genuinely would be exactly what Ann describes, all across the country. Fathers disowning their sons and kicking them out onto the street. Mothers locking up their daughters or sending them to charm school. Children forced to undergo electro-shock or even worse forms of “therapy” to rid themselves of their orientation. To learn how to not be true to themselves.
And although we’ve come a long way from those ideas as a cultural collective, I have no doubt that last week, more than a few American households experienced the tragedy that Ann joked about.
Approximately 50% of LGBT youth experience some degree of family rejection. There are as many as 100 thousand homeless LGBT youth on our nation’s streets, and it’s estimated that LGBT youth make up as much as 40% of our nation’s homeless youth population. LGBT youth who are completely rejected by their parents are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide.
Pretty funny, right?
Again, I know it’s a joke, but ANYTHING that adds to the idea that family rejection of LGBT young people is expected, or even “normal” enough to be casually joked about, causes harm. The kind of harm that Spirit Day was specifically created to protect against.
So this week we’ll let the rest of America stand up for those young people. With Spirit Day on Friday, I thought it would be a nice thought to list some of the corporations and individuals who will be standing up against Ann Coulter’s idea, and showing their support for LGBT youth this week by going purple:
Facebook, the NBA, Major League Soccer, Times Square, the New York Stock Exchange, the hosts of ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘The Talk,’ ‘E! News,’ ‘Chelsea Lately,’ Dianna Agron, Sir Ian McKellen, Fun., Bernadette Peters, the cast of Days of Our Lives, Joel McHale, Cesar Milan, the Duke Energy Tower, Toyota Financial Services, AMC Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Nielsen, Omnicom Group, American Apparel, AT&T, PepsiCo, American Airlines, Thomson Reuters, Warner Bros. Check out some of the additional partners here.
Not to mention the millions of everyday people across North America who will be participating, and standing up in support of every LGBT young person, including – and especially – those who came out last week.
Like I said, I’ve never taken Ann Coulter seriously, and I’m certainly not going to start now. But the idea of family rejection is one that does deserve serious attention as a society. Go purple on Friday, not just to show LGBT young people that you support them, but to show Ann Coulter what you stand for.
Aaron McQuade is Director of News and Field Media for GLAAD.