“Learn to love. Teach to love. Share the love.” This week’s Young Reporters article

Nelson Mandela once said that “love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite” and this, although relatable to many contexts, can be used to demonstrate how love is capable of diminishing the hate directed at the LBGT+ community. People are not born with a heart full of prejudice, it is learned – but who from exactly?

The role of a Member of Parliament is defined as being ‘the representative of the voters’, so tell me, how many of the electorate directly set out to vote for the undertones of, and on many occasions direct homophobia presented in government? On Wednesday 27th March MPs voted in favour of guidelines introducing LGBT inclusive sex and relationship education in schools, a major development in promoting the acceptance of a commonly discriminated against community. Despite the vast majority of MPs voting to protect and educate the next generation of children, a group of 21 MPs voted against the proposals. Those 21 MPs who voted against education that is there to stop the word ‘gay’ being thrown around in the playground or used as an adjective to describe something soppy were elected to represent the views of their communities, the views of a community a lot closer to home than you may realise (I’d recommend checking how your local MP voted to gain an insight into what is being voted on your behalf). Those 21 MPs cannot tell me that excluding the teaching of LGBT relationships in education will not detrimentally impact the self-esteem and happiness of gay children. Those 21 MPs are: promoting prejudice, promoting hate and promoting the normality of the internalised feeling of shame and guilt than can ruin the life of an LGBT+ child. As the government continue to represent their own individual views and not the views of the electorate we need to make a stand against these 21 MPs and make it clear that they can keep pretending the LGBT+ community does not exist – but we will always come out fighting because, as Anne Hathaway said – “love is a human experience, not a political statement.”

However, have you considered that all the blame cannot be placed solely on the government? Why does the politically unaware teen boy in year 11 think that gay people are disgusting? Well, it’s because of the way his Dad reacts when he sees two women holding hands on the street. Although we cannot let the government off lightly, maybe we need to consider the impact of the morals of the family on our children. If children, LGBT+ or not, grow up being told that hate is the only way forward and that there is something wrong with gay people, then they will live their lives believing it, and sometimes preaching it. The gay kids that grow up in these families will be raised swallowing their shame at every family dinner, sitting in silence believing their very existence is immoral. These children will feel hate towards themselves and this internalised shame and guilt is what leads to the figures that show that LGBT+ individuals have some of the highest rates of mental illness and suicide. We need to teach our children that: every identity is valid, that you treat people with respect regardless of their sexuality, that people are free to live their life however they feel most comfortable and most importantly, that we have no right to negatively comment on the life of someone else on the basis of their sexuality. Raise your children: with respect, with understanding and with love, and help mould them into a valuable member of our society who stands up for the rights of the LGBT+ community – not as a person who actively hates and discriminates.

Some fall in love at 60, some say they knew they were gay at the age of five, but that does not matter. What I know for sure is: it is not a choice. Who you love, who you are attracted to, who you tell your deepest thoughts to, who you share your last chocolate biscuit with.

Story by Young Reporter Ellie Cox.

Article first appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 7th May 2019.

For more information about Young Reporters contact Jenny Hodson at VANEL (jenny@vanel.org.uk)