This past year, many of us read reports about hate crimes towards gay people and young gay teenagers who have killed themselves. At the same time, many politicians in the news thought they would get a "pass" for making intolerant comments about those in the LGBT community.
Often intolerant speech is confined to snippets overheard on the street. But this year, homophobic comments flew out of the mouths of too many high-profile figures and sometimes their kin. Rappers did it. Teenage girls did it. Old white men did it. Some apologized. Others did not.
The gay community in America has struggled for acceptance for decades and while they have made great strides, there are still problems. Therefore, it is wrong and immoral for public figures and celebrities to make prejudiced comments about a community that is too often a target of violence and discrimination.
Public figures should be setting a better example. And at the same time, teachers and school administrators must be more vigilant about monitoring for signs of anti-gay bullying, as well as protecting LGBT youth who are in danger or emotionally vulnerable.
If you're a teenager or a grown adult, and you hear a friend use a homophobic slur, let them know that it's not okay with you. We all have the power to help others and create a more tolerant atmosphere.