By Eliza Insley and Kai Lock
The LGBTQ community faces discrimination and lack of representation in America’s generally hetero-normative society. There have been some leaps of progress in the past decade with legalization of same-sex marriage, for example, but the new legal ability to be able to marry just scratches the surface of LGBTQ issues.
Mistreatment of the members of the LGBTQ community matters to us because we have friends and family who are members of the LGBTQ community, and we are at a time in our lives where we are figuring out who we are.
Knowing that our friends and family could be at risk and could face discrimination for who they are is devastating. They are people who we care about, and they are being threatened for how they identify or who they love. That there are people out there who think it is OK to treat people so horribly and who try and justify that mistreatment as “their opinion” or their religion is scary, especially when it’s not called out, as it should be.
Gay conversion therapy is one of the biggest threats to the LGBTQ community. It is only banned in seven states, plus D.C. According to the Human Rights Campaign, gay conversion therapy statistically shows that LGBTQ community members are more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide. It is absolutely disgusting that only seven states in the U.S. have banned this type of practice.
We believe that everyone should have the right to love anyone they want. Being a homosexual was removed from the mental disorders list in 1973, we don’t see why people think that this can be “cured” and that there is still a method to “pray the gay away.”
We are at a time in our lives where we are expected to discover who we are as people. That is hard to do when there is so much controversy and hate surrounding certain parts of someone’s identity. Growing up in such a toxic environment could lead to horrible things such as depression and other mental issues resulting from hiding or trying to get rid of a large part of your personality out of fear of not being accepted.
Coming out is a big step for some people because they are terrified of how they will be perceived by friends, family and peers. Some families aren’t as accepting as others, and teens are thrown out of their homes for their sexual identity. 40 percent of youth who are homeless are in the LGBTQ community. Homeless LGBTQ youth are at a heightened risk of violence, abuse and exploitation, and they can experience both physical and mental strains because of discrimination and the stigma against identifying as LGBTQ.
People who identify as LGBTQ don’t only face discrimination in the streets and in their own homes, but they also face discrimination in their own schools. Summit Prep junior Bella Weiss said “no one talked to me” after she came out in middle school.
Seeing the injustice that members of the LGBTQ community face, it has become harder for more people to accept who they are and to come to terms with their identity and sexuality. Our new generation has witnessed hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, and many don’t feel safe and sound in our nation through the lack of protection and recognition of the LGBTQ community in the United States of America.
We hope to see more respect shown toward members of the LGBTQ community in the future. It would help to have a more accurate representation in the media of what it means to be a part of this community.