Eric Marcus

Talking About Gay Marriage In High School

Filed By Eric Marcus | June 22, 2008 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage, idaho, LGBT youth, out and proud, persuasive speech, teen

On several occasions I've heard from high school students who have wanted advice on how to give a persuasive speech on gay issues and/or how to deal with the potential fallout from a teacher and classmates. The back-and-forth that follows stood out both because of where the young man lives and because of his determination to speak up.

Hello my name is __________ and I live in _______, Idaho. Plus I am proud to say that I am totally out of the closet. This is my first year at ___________ High School and I've had enough discrimination to last me a lifetime. I am worried about doing a persuasive speech on gay marriage. A lot of this discrimination has come from my English class.

For example last week a kid behind me said he hates gay people and they have no purpose in life. Oh and don't forget I wish you were dead. My question to you is how do I keep my chin up when talking about this subject in front of my discriminating English class? --Out & Proud

Dear Out & Proud,
Keeping your chin up when you're an adult can be really tough. Given that you're still a young man, I'm very impressed that you're totally out of the closet and are considering giving a persuasive speech that you know is going to inspire some of your classmates to express their hateful attitudes.

Does your English teacher know that your classmates are giving you a hard time? Have you told your parents about this? Have your parents talked to the teacher and/or your principal? It would be helpful for me to know the answers to these questions in order to give you specific advice, but in the meantime, here's what I'm thinking:

Assuming you can talk to your English teacher about your concerns, I suggest that you talk to your teacher after class and explain that you are planning to do a persuasive speech on gay marriage, but that you have classmates who have already made threatening statements to you. Then ask the teacher what he or she can/will do to make certain that your classmates treat you in a respectful way. How does that sound?

I hope you feel proud of yourself for being yourself. And I hope that your parents are proud of you, too! All best, Eric

To answer your questions yes my parents are informed of my discrimination problems in school and yes I did talk to my English teacher. He said there are many students in my class doing their project on this subject and he will have them go first to see how others students handle it. In a worst case scenario he wouldn't have me present my speech and would have me do the project some other way. Mostly because I am openly gay.

To add on I have spoken to many supervisors and administrators in our school about some life threatening situations. I would also like to explain that after researching this subject as a young teen it bothers me that I can only get married in few places. Does our government understand that allowing gay marriage within the whole country will simplify taxes? Thank you very much. --Out & Proud

He has a good point!

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

marriage equality... it's not about special privilege.

it's about equal access.

great piece, eric.

tobyhannabill | June 23, 2008 2:19 AM

It sounds like his school could use a Gay Straight Alliance. Once people see that he is neiter alone or without support the bullying should lessen.
If he doesn't have one, he should start one. Round up other out students and their friends to show a united unstoppable front.

You always give such good advice, Eric. I'm glad you're helping these kids; they're in good hands.

Hi Eric. I can really empathize with this teenager, having attended the last two years of high school in Rexburg, Idaho myself. I was flat out told by a teacher that I was going to hell because I supported gay rights. I wasn't out then. So I think this kid is incredibly brave to be out in that environment. I wish him the best of luck.