I’ve been teaching at Westminster College for four years. It’s a small private school in Salt Lake City considered the most elite in the area, and the administration does everything it can to hold students’ hands. Of the kids I’ve had in my classroom, about 10% tend to really struggle. These kids don’t have much in common, besides being less interested in college than sking/partying/sleeping/being miserable. This, however isn’t true of a particular segment of student who tends to struggle: gay students.
These students tend to enter college with more emotional baggage, and often more financial problems, than any of my other students. Many have been kicked out of their homes, some have run away. The lucky ones had friends or family who took them in. The unlucky ones lived on the street or ended up in foster care.
I know, it’s unbelievable. But these students, the ones who have been so mistreated, don’t come from major metropolitan areas. Their parents aren’t educated or forward thinking. And as far as I can tell, don’t love their children more than they are attached to their fear and ignorance and hate.
These kids are brave beyond brave. If it were me, I’d have stayed in the closet. When I came out, I was already in college, and as my parents digested the news I was able to flee to my cushy college campus and get on with my life, knowing my parents would get over it (and sooner rather than later). I had nothing to risk. These kids sacrificed their homes, their security, and often, the love of their family, to be honest about who they are.
And they show up at Westminster underprepared and damaged. They have daunting loans and precarious living situations. And I’m supposed to hold them accountable for properly citing sources, and meeting arbitrary deadlines. To do less would be doing them a disservice, I get that.
I don’t want to patronize them…but these poor kids. The gay rights movement, but all accounts has been extremely fast moving. But to these kids, it doesn’t matter. While society’s opinions are taking their necessary time to evolve, these kids are living on the streets. Some are forced into prostitution. Some are beaten and robbed. Some become diseased. For all, it’s grossly unfair, and just gross.
This isn’t necessarily a call to action. That’s not my job.
I’m just saying.