Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.

           

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Meaningful Spirit Day

Catherine Ryan Hyde

I can't really say, "Happy Spirit Day."  Because it's nothing to be happy about.

The last few months have seen an epidemic of teens committing suicide in the wake of unmerciful bullying, violence and degradation.  Because they were gay, or perceived as gay.  Today the caring world wears purple in remembrance.  And today I say, along with millions of others, "Enough!"  You cannot tell a whole group of people that what they are is wrong.  What they are is what they are.  Accept it.  Children are dying (two of these boys were only 13 years old).  You don't have the right to say who or what someone else can be.

I'm going to say something a bit radical for Spirit Day, but I think it needs to be said.  It's time to stop pretending, as a society, that we have two groups with differing opinions, and that both opinions are of equal merit.  I'm sorry, but that's just not true.  If you voted for Proposition 8 in California, you revoked rights from your neighbors.  That's not an opinion.  It's an act of discrimination.  When you feel same-gender marriage is a bit yucky for you to think about, that is an opinion.  When you vote to remove your neighbor's rights--my rights--that is a harm.  Bullying is not an opinion.  It is an act of physical, or emotional, or verbal, or psychic violence. Or all of the above. 

I'll bet I can find you someone in this country who still thinks schools should be segregated.  Someone who would reverse the integration laws if he could.  Shall we call him a fine, honest citizen with a differing opinion? Or shall we call him what he is?   

Enough.  Enough.  Enough.  This is America.  We are all promised liberty and justice.  If you feel that a group of honest Americans do not deserve liberty and justice, that is bigotry.  And it's time for bigotry to end.  In fact, it's long overdue.  But don't take my word for it.  Ask the families who have lost their sons.  I'm sure they'll say it better than I ever could.