While most Canadians agree that being gay is not a choice, homophobia is still an acceptable form of violence in many places. The continued use of "fag" and "that's so gay" as derogatory terms undermines the feelings of self-worth of not only gay people, but straight, queer and trans people too.
The recent media spotlight on the tragic deaths of those teenagers is only a tiny fraction of the persistent violence, ignorance and intolerance that plagues all of us. When one group is allowed to be persecuted for being themselves, other groups are then opened up to violence as well, even if the people in the second group have nothing in common with the first group.
For example, when "don't be such a faggot" is used to insult another man, it is underlining and highlighting traits that the perpetrator finds "gay" or "feminine". Can you imagine what this man's views of women are? If being a "faggot" and having "feminine" qualities is a bad thing, then being a woman itself is a terrible, dirty thing. The use of "faggot" attacks not only straight boys, but gay boys, ALL women, and people who do not fit inside the gender boxes.
The UN, a week or so ago, bowed to pressure from TWO COUNTRIES out of their 192 country membership, and removed "sexual orientation" from a resolution proposed by the human rights branch of the General Assembly. The article is here.
Those countries are Mali and Morocco, perhaps not who you would have expected. The US, surprisingly enough, voted against removing sexual orientation from the resolution and actually did not vote in the final count.
But seriously? Two out of 192. TWO. That's not even 1% of the vote, that's 0.01% of the vote. Both of these countries are dependent on various programs run by the UN... and since when is it right for the majority to decide minority rights?
The UN has allowed a loophole to continue violence against all people by not specifically stating sexual orientation. They didn't include gender identity in that either, which goes hand in hand with homophobia (homophobia is rooted in fear of gender non-conformity, which leads to a fear of sexual orientation other than straight people).
Instilling a sense of understanding and empathy in kids on a variety of topics, INCLUDING sexuality, is important. Teenagers especially need and want discussion about sexuality, a topic that our society is terrified of addressing (because if you talk about sex with teenagers, they're all going to get pregnant or syphilis, right?). Just as we talk about positive body image, sexuality needs to be de-stigmatized and brought into our everyday language. While conversation about sexuality does include a conversation about sex, it is not ultimately a HOW TO ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ACTIVITIES, rather a forum for everyone to talk about the broad spectrum of human experience.
All people need to be recognized for who and what they are. There needs to be more than acceptance, there needs to be understanding, empathy and support. To produce healthy, happy, well adjusted citizens, the broad spectrum of human experience needs to be discussed starting in childhood. It is the only thing that will prevent our societies from collapsing into chaos (which is the complete opposite of the crazy fundamentalists).