Glendale: Opponents do not speak for all Armenians

Glendale News Press, CA
May 15 2008

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:
Opponents do not speak for all Armenians

By Haig Boyadjian
Published: Last Updated Wednesday, May 14, 2008 10:26 PM PDT

The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles commends Glendale
Unified School District Supt. Michael Escalante for his willingness to
uphold his students’ First Amendment rights, which were expressed
through the Day of Silence event (`Parents blast Day of Silence,’
April 25).

We are glad that the Glendale Unified School District and other area
school districts support these events that seek to increase awareness
of sexual orientation issues.

The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles is a nonprofit
organization whose goal is to foster acceptance and promote equality
of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We at the society
have tried as adults to create the kind of place we didn’t have as
children – a place where we can be ourselves without fearing for our
safety.

We want to state unequivocally that the handful of Armenian parents
who were vitriolic in their opposition to the Day of Silence do not
represent the entire Armenian community. The members of the Gay and
Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles and our many supportive family
members and friends belong to the Glendale and Los Angeles Armenian
communities, and we all believe that there can be no tolerance for
bullying and harassment of any student, regardless of his or her
sexual orientation.

We condemn the homophobic comments that were aired on a recent
Armenian television program. They were irresponsible since such speech
can cause disastrous consequences for children, who might go so far as
to commit suicide or substance abuse as a result of rejection from
their families.

Naira Khachatrian was simply wrong when she said, `This is not a
school issue. This is an adult issue.’ The mistreatment of children at
school is an issue for all the parties involved – parents, school
administrators, teachers and, most of all, children.

All parents must support what the Day of Silence stands for; after
all, anyone’s sons or daughters are at risk for bullying or
harassment, whether it be for their real or perceived sexual identity.

The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles is saddened to see
that some Armenians are unable to see the parallels between racial and
sexual orientation discrimination. We come from a culture that is,
sadly, too familiar with what can happen when one group is ostracized
and discriminated against. However, we have hope for the future that
springs from the students who courageously organized and participated
in the Day of Silence event, especially given the sometimes hostile
response it has received in the community. And, we are proud and
encouraged that some of the participants in Day of Silence were
Armenian.

Homosexuality not only exists, it exists within the Armenian
community. The members of gay and lesbian society are the children and
grandchildren of the Armenian community. We are lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender and there is nothing wrong with us. If sexuality had
been a choice, surely we would have chosen to fit in with the majority
of our often traditional culture. But, we are all proud of who we are.

We hope that through events like the Day of Silence, more Armenian
families will accept that there is nothing wrong with children who
identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and that it is not
a failure of parenting. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sexual
orientation is not a product of non-Armenian culture. There are many
proud lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Armenians around the
world, including in Armenia.

The Glendale community – Armenians included – must do everything it
can to foster the acceptance of all of its parts, including those with
which it does not agree. Teaching students about the value of
tolerance and acceptance of people different than themselves is a
powerful tool that can prevent tragic events such as the murders of
Matthew Shepard and, more recently, Lawrence King. These two innocent
children were murdered by their peers – peers who were never taught
the value of accepting others different from themselves.

We call upon our fellow Armenian brothers and sisters to support
tolerance, the local school districts, and most importantly our
children. We must all raise our voices against hate and
misunderstanding and support valuable programs like Day of Silence
that can make a positive difference.

HAIG BOYADJIAN is the president of Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of
Los Angeles and a resident of Glendale.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS