I wish to express my outrage and horror at the events described in your coverage of the child who was verbally assaulted by a school bus driver who perceived him as being gay. He was isolated and removed from the security of others to be harassed, shamed and accused by a public employee entrusted with his protection and well-being. Who was there to defend this child? The person entrusted with his safety? No, thankfully his sister had the courage and wisdom to speak up. This story could have ended differently. He could have suffered the indignity in silence, as many have, alone and afraid. He could have let his isolation and fear consume him until his only conclusion was suicide. I guarantee you he will remember every wounding word spoken on the bus that day.
Sadly, this story plays out across the country all the time. I know this boy well. This boy is my child. This boy is your child. He is me. Every gay person in Louisiana knows what this boy felt. When a person of authority claims you are not good enough, you question your own self-worth.
My outrage and shock were compounded only by the hateful, thoughtless and ignorant comments of the local community who posted to the online version of this article. Baton Rouge, you should be ashamed to allow such vitriol and malice to fester in our community. This must end now. Gay or straight, no child should be told they are going to hell or that someone’s idea of God excludes them from salvation.
The horror continues in that he will have to see this bus driver in the same position of authority every day for the rest of this school year and maybe even the next one, as well. At the very least, the driver should be removed from this route or, better yet, fired for assault. Yes, assault. Telling a child that they are going to hell is hurtful and damaging, especially when rendered from a position of authority.
Sadly, our public officials have decided to turn a blind eye and provide only cursory assurance that the behavior will not happen again.
“Suffer the little children … for such is the kingdom of heaven.” These words apply to ALL children regardless of what one misguided person may think of them. This child, whether gay or straight, should not be made to feel inferior. All I can say to this child is: Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Take heart and be stronger than those words. It gets better. I know this every time I look into the faces of my husband and children.