Students, faculty react to kicked-out gay youth

Growing up, we’re taught to never judge a book by its cover, or to never be afraid to express ourselves, to be whom we really are.

That plan backfired when a Georgia teen was kicked out of his home for being gay.

When 20-year-old Daniel Pierce told his parents he was gay, the conversation quickly turned verbally abusive and later became physical.

Pierce came out for being gay in 2013, but was kicked out of his home last month because of it.

During the intervention by his Christian parents and grandparents, he was told homosexuality is a choice, and “God creates nobody that way.”

“I believe he has been mistreated all of his life since they said they have known that he was gay since about 5 years old,” said Penny Bodell, adviser for MCCC’s Gay Straight Alliance.

“What 5-year old could “choose” to be gay?"

“This was his calling – to be disowned was probably meant to be before any further abuse,” she added.

The entire conversation was caught on video. Afterward, Pierce received nearly $100,000 in donations to help him get on his own feet.

Now, Pierce is paying any more donations forward toward a non-profit agency in Atlanta called Lost-n-Found, which support homeless lesbian, gay, or transgender youth.

MCCC students have similar sentiments.

“When I got older and more established, I’ve wanted to create a home here in Monroe where people can go,” said Jeremy McGary, a GSA member.

From a parent’s perspective, Bodell said the entire episode is difficult to understand.

“As a parent, I cannot believe anyone could disown their child, especially for being who they are. This video recording sickens me. My child will forever be my child, and I will always be there for them,” she said.

There are various reasons a family might reject their children’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, according to Psychology Professor Melissa Grey.

“For some families, they feel embarrassment, like the child is a flaw or mark of shame on the family that others will judge,” she said. “Some family members don’t understand that diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity and expression is normal and healthy.”

People also tend to react with outrage because they simply don’t know enough about the topic.

“Unfortunately, people have a lot of misinformation and negative attitudes about sexual orientation and gender diversity,” Grey said. “They often don’t have ‘good’ reasons for rejecting their LGBTQ young people. A lot of people think the misinformation and negative attitudes come from religion, but this isn’t a completely accurate picture.”

It’s important for people to feel comfortable in their own skin and to know how to express themselves, she said.

“In general, peer and family support are both important predictors of better psychological health,” Grey said.

“Accepting family attitudes of LGBTQ youth lead to decreased risk for suicide, depression, and sub- stance abuse, and higher levels of self-esteem, social support and general health in adulthood,” she said.