We were saddened to read in the New York Times last weekend that the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, has called for the election of a new bishop, who will succeed him at the beginning of 2013. Robinson made headlines in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop elected by the Episcopal Church, and his election opened a rift in the church, both nationally and internationally, that has yet to be healed.

We are particularly saddened that among the reasons the bishop gave for his impending retirement when he addressed members of his diocese at their convention Nov. 6, was the “toll” that the last seven years have taken on him and his family. “Death threats and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop, have been a constant strain,” he said.

It is horrifying that people who claim to believe in a loving God could treat another person in the way Robinson has had to endure, no matter what their disagreement with him.

However, there was also reason for encouragement in Robinson’s address. He dwelt long on the accomplishments of his diocese during his tenure, generously crediting others for much of it. And he said something in telling those assembled what they had meant to him that struck us as important:

“New Hampshire is always the place I remain, simply, ‘the Bishop.’ This is the one place on earth where I am not ‘the gay Bishop.’ … You always treat me as a human being, a beloved child of God, and an eager servant of Our Lord.”

These remarks were brought back to us when we read, also in last Saturday’s New York Times, about some parents in Helena, Mont., who had objected to their local school’s anti-bullying curriculum, for fear it might teach their children that attraction to members of their own sex is as normal, as natural, for gay and lesbian people as attraction to members of the opposite sex is for heterosexuals.

The isolation and harassment of others because they are different is repugnant, and teaching children not only to avoid, but also to abhor, such behavior is the duty of every adult who aspires to belong to a humane society.

The purpose, of anti-bullying education, after all, is to make true for all members of our society Bishop Robinson’s experience among his flock in New Hampshire: that they will be treated as human beings, beloved of their creator.

We look forward to the day when the lesbian aunt is simply an aunt, the gay doctor is simply a doctor, the black judge is simply a judge and the female scientist is simply brilliant.