Near to our hearts… And I’m no exception. It was a different world in the late 70′s and 80′s when I was a child being raised by a lesbian Mother – Or at least I thought! We had no Ellen or Rosie and the only openly gay character I remember on television was on Soap. I lived a childhood of shame, not wanting anyone to know my Mom was gay… and for that I feel shame. It was tough and kids are mean, but that was almost 30 years ago and we have progressed so far. So why in today’s headlines are there two stories of young gay men killing themselves as a result of harassment and bullying? Even sadder, these stories are not rare examples, this has consistently been a problem. As parents we have to let our children know bullying of anyone from any race or group is wrong and will not be accepted. The young men who drove this young Rutgers student to jump off a bridge stand to serve 5 years max (and odds are they would not get that sentence) for collecting or viewing images depicting nudity or sexual content of an individual without that person’s consent and the boys whose bullying drove a 13 year old boy to hang himself broke no laws and will not be punished. Not that I think longer sentences or stronger punishments are the answer. Better education and stronger parenting are the issue. It’s hard enough to be a kid, let alone a gay kid… or a fat kid, or a tall kid, or a short kid, or a poor kid, or a disabled kid, or a kid that stands out with any kind of difference. We’ll never eliminate the taunting and picking on, but it wouldn’t hurt to teach our kids some tolerance and compassion.