Gay intolerance

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Arguing that efforts should be made to discourage young people from thinking they might be gay, Richard Lucas (Letters, 30 August) points out that gay men are statistically more likely to contract STIs.

This may be at least partly remedied by measures such as same-sex marriage which, by normalising gay relationships, may render gay men no more likely to engage in risky relationships than heterosexual men.

He claims that mental health problems among gay people cannot be due to societal pressures and homophobia because these problems persist even in the most progressive (he puts scare-quotes around the last word) countries.

This is naive in the extreme. Even where the laws are progressive, features such as parental ostracism and school bullying, not to mention the condemnations of people like Mr Lucas, persist.

He says he does not believe that there are LGBT five-year-olds who will feel like outcasts if they do not find same-sex couples in their storybooks.

No, but they may feel like outcasts later, when their sexual feelings develop, especially when nearly everything else in their school experience may have pointed the same way – from having to make Valentine cards in art class for someone of the other sex to frosty teachers attempting to claim it as a right of conscience to make disparaging remarks about same- sex relationships to a ban on same-sex partners at the school prom.

And in how many schools is there really zero tolerance of the bullying of gay pupils, zero tolerance that would allow a teacher to tell the bullies and reassure the victim: “There is nothing wrong with being gay”?

Paul Brownsey

Larchfield Road