In the last few weeks my little town in Northern Indiana has been engrossed in a national conversation on LGBTQ students.

The scenario is as follows. An 8th grade health teacher decided to pass out the infographic below after showing a video on LGBTQ issues. Since the graphic is a little muddied (and adorned with some further questions from an alt-right/right-wing website), these are the questions that it asks:

  1. What is sexual orientation?
  2. What is gender?
  3. At what age do kids start being exposed to gender stereotypes?
  4. What is an LGBTQ ally?
  5. What is gender expression?
  6. What is “coming out”?
  7. Name at least 3 resources that you can use to support you if you come out?
  8. What does GSA stand for and what does it do?
  9. What are 2 things you can do to show support of the LGBTQ community?

The uproar in town and from the conservative website that got ahold of this curriculum is that this assignment indoctrinates students to be LGBTQ allies. However, minus the last question, there is nothing here that makes a value judgment on LGBTQ students or people. The fact is that they are, and since they are they deserve to be treated like people. The science and facts are definitive that things like sexual orientation and gender identity exist: the question remains as to what moral and value judgment we put on it. The question that does not exist, though, is what moral or value judgment we put on a person who has a different sexual orientation or has gender nonconformity. Those people are still people and deserve to be treated as such.

Now, why would Here/Hear care about this? I’m glad that I asked for you. Mainly, Here/Hear cares because the LGBTQ community is at higher risk of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, alcohol and drug dependence, and a myriad of other mental health issues. And, the reason that LGBTQ people are more at risk is because people are unaccepting of them. People question them about their sexual identity. People treat them poorly. They have fewer resources and friends because people place a value judgment on their being due to their sexual or gender identity. All of this leads to increased anxiety and depression, caused by people who refuse to treat people like people.

But, let’s go further. Earlier this year Here/Hear had the privilege of attending the Gay Christian Network. This is the largest gathering of LGBTQ Christians in the country. It was an incredible experience because we got to hear the stories of people who were coming from places where they were not accepted or treated well. We heard stories of what this did to their mental health. We listened to a woman who lives with incredible regret because she could not accept her son’s sexuality and, so, at 28 he finally took his own life. She goes to GCN as a reminder and memorial to him. There was another story of a man whose best friend was killed in the Pulse Night Club shooting, by a man who hated the LGBTQ community for whatever reason. There was the keynote speaker who told the story of her son who died by suicide after being forced out of the closet by roommate. And there were the countless people we talked to who had anxiety, depression, and the like because they were made to feel less than human by church, parents, schools, and society at large.

This assignment seeks to rectify some of these problems. We teach our children that if a friend is in trouble or has a problem, then they should help their friend. This assignment simply does the same thing with people who are a little different. And the reaction to the assignment shows the need for such, the need to teach our children how to help those are a little different and what resources are there. It teaches our children, no matter what they might think about another person’s values or morality, that each person is worthy and in need of being helped. And, to oppose that, to willingly cause people to be depressed and have anxiety, to be ok with people being suicidal, well, that’s the moral problem.