Mitchell Gold — a furniture maker and the founder of the nonprofit Faith in America — discussed the anti-gay bullying young people face from parents and religious institutions during an appearance on MSNBC this afternoon. Describing the right-wing’s anti-gay advocacy as “bullying” of young people, Gold said that “We, as a country, have to have a serious discussion about religious views that cause enormous harm to other people” and suggested that religious organizations and lawmakers who condemn gay youth are complicit in “child molestation”:
GOLD: I would say this, that clergy people who stand at their pulpit and they speak about gay people as sinners and an abomination, that is bullying a young kid. That is really — and I know this may sound exaggerated — but that is nothing less than child molestation of a child’s mind. [...] It is devastating to a 14-year-old-kid to hear their rabbi or their imam or their priest or clergy person say that they are a sinner or an abomination…and I’m here to tell them, they are full and whole and wonderful and they will learn as life goes on that there are many, many people who feel that way.
Indeed, numerous studies have shown that anti-gay stigma can cause severe emotional stress and depression, undermine students’ academic performances and lead to poorer health outcomes. For instance, a recent paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association found that “students who were bullied in the 10th grade experienced a .049 points decrease in 12th grade GPA.” LGBT youth that reported high levels of anti-LGBT victimization as teens were also 5.6 times more likely to report suicide attempts, be clinically depressed, or report a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease by young adulthood, a study from the Family Acceptance Project found.
Gold also condemned North Carolina lawmakers for passing a ballot measure asking voters to ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution. “It was one of the most frightful things I have ever seen about how legislators at the end of the day care more about protecting their job in the legislature than protecting young kids and people who are minority in the state,” he said.