By Judy Hoy, Stevensville
Regarding Hamilton School Board’s consideration of providing special protection from bullying for LGBT students:
No student, teacher or anyone else should be discriminated against or bullied because of the way they are born or for the way they look or any other reason over which they have no control. It is the responsibility of all citizens, most importantly those in positions of significant responsibility like a school board or school administration, to make certain all people, especially children, receive the protections granted by our constitution. It is the special responsibility of all school boards and all school administrations to protect the students in their care from mental and physical harm while on school grounds, especially students who are perceived as different.
LGBT students should not be treated different from other students; they should be treated with respect, compassion and consideration. They should not ever be made to feel that being different is wrong and they should absolutely be protected, even if it takes special rules and enforcement of those rules.
When developing Civil Rights legislation in our country, it is necessary to specify the groups of people who are being protected. Sadly, when children are raised in an environment of ignorance, hatred and/or fear against any group of people, they may not realize the ‘others’ are truly individuals, the same as those in ‘their’ group.
Generic anti-bullying rules are likely to be less effective in protecting LGBT children than strong statements and punishments specifically against that discrimination. Hopefully this can include education about these individuals, thus reducing the ignorance and fear. Judging by statements made by adults as reported in the paper, education is sorely needed. Some of those statements were completely reprehensible to me and I am heterosexual. I can’t imagine how an LGBT student felt after reading about the meeting. Don’t people have any idea at all how hurtful it is for children who are born different to hear or read those things? For example, what pro-gay agenda could a child possibly have? Talk about bullies!
Contrary to what some people were reported to have stated to the Hamilton School Board concerning LGBT children, protecting children who are born different does not promote anything except compassion, civility and the law. Also contrary to what some people stated, being born different is not a choice made by the child. The choice is made by adults who use endocrine disrupting chemicals to which the child is then exposed during development in the womb. How can that in any way be the fault of the child? Should that child then be ostracized, beaten up, discriminated against, called degrading names and have to undergo both physical and mental torture for life because of poor choices adults make before the child is born?
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I heard many reports here in Ravalli County of little children, both boys and girls, between the ages of 3 and 7 growing breasts. Did they choose to do that? No, they did not. It was caused by something they were exposed to that caused a hormonal imbalance. In 2004, because I was working on hormone disruption in big game animals causing underdeveloped male genitalia, parents and grandparents reported to me that some little boys were being born here in Ravalli County with underdeveloped genitalia. I don’t know if prevalence of such hormone disruption in children is higher or lower now than in the early 2000s, but children have no choice in these matters.
Physically, sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice. People who are LGBT have the same ability as heterosexuals to choose individual sexual partners – and the same lack of choice about the gender to which they are emotionally and sexually attracted.
However, any adult may ‘choose’ to be with another consenting adult of the same sex; that is their right and their business, whether they are homosexual, bisexual, transgender or heterosexual. What adults ‘choose’ to do regarding sexual partners has nothing to do with a child being born homosexual, transgender, bisexual or heterosexual. Children do not choose the gender to which they are attracted. Being affected by endocrine disruption during development in the womb disrupts their sexual preference development. Unfortunately, due to ignorance concerning this condition, protecting this group of children from being bullied may take specific policies and clearly stated punishments concerning the consequence of discrimination against and/or bulling of LGBT teachers and children.
Regarding adult choices, even school custodians at some schools in Ravalli County make the very bad choice to have school lawns sprayed by pesticide applicators. Studies of the exact herbicide combination used on many Ravalli County School lawns showed that the combination was far more toxic and hormone disrupting than one chemical alone, especially to the embryos, fetuses and young of the test animals. At some schools, the children and others are allowed to walk or play on the sprayed lawn within only a few hours after application. The Safety Data Sheets for each of the chemicals in the endocrine disrupting, cancer causing, gender disrupting, brain-damaging combination of herbicides used by applicators state no one should be allowed on or in the area sprayed for a minimum of 48 hours. Exposure to the toxic chemicals is known to be hazardous.
A review of 20,000 studies of different pesticides (umbrella term which includes herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, etc.) by a group of pediatricians concluded no level of pesticide exposure to human embryos and fetuses is ‘safe.’ Endocrine disrupting pesticides, especially herbicides, can severely damage the embryos or fetuses of pregnant mothers who walk on or near sprayed school grounds or any other sprayed lawn, field or roadside. A child then born with chromosomal damage like Down’s Syndrome, or disrupted brain development which causes some kinds of autism, or with disrupted bone development, including facial bones, missing limbs or digits, or disrupted gender identification will likely need more protection from bullying. How is being born with these conditions the child’s fault or choice? Symptoms of thyroid hormone disruption on mammal fetuses include any or several of the following: diabetes, heart defects, asthma, immune system disorders, obesity, underdeveloped facial bones, underdeveloped reproductive organs on males, disrupted sexual development, disrupted brain development, including autism, disrupted development of limbs and/or digits, underdeveloped thymus, cleft palate, premature birth, dismature at birth, contracted tendons, herniated umbilicus, high cholesterol, liver damage, propensity to have cancer and many other health problems.
All school boards and school administrators have the responsibility to protect every child in their care from mental and physical harm. Children who are born with physical characteristics perceived as “different” should have special protection from any discrimination, and from mental and physical harm by others, because they are the ones who need such protection, even after they are adults and become teachers. Please keep in mind always: no child deserves to be punished in any way at any time during their lives, because of the regrettable choices made by adults before the child was born.