By Alaya Scarlett and Ines Villarreal Senzatimore
The LGBTQ community enompasses people from a wide spectrum of sexualtites and genders. While there has been an improvement in acceptance and support for the community both globally and locally, homophobia is still very prevalent.
1. How many people are in the LGBTQ community? An estimated 11 million adults in the United States identify as part of the LGBT community, according to Gallup News. Furthermore, there has been a steady increase in LGBT identifying individuals throughout the past few years. The article states, “The percentage of American adults identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) increased to 4.5% in 2017, up from 4.1% in 2016 and 3.5% in 2012 when Gallup began tracking the measure.” Significantly, more people who are part of this community will face social issues and homophobia based on their sexuality or gender.
2. How does homophobia affect the workplace? According to the Catalyst, “One-fifth (20%) of LGBTQ Americans have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs”, especially regarding LGBTQ people of color, whose rate of descrimination is 32%. This discrimination can greatly affect their pay and possible promotions. 80% of exclusively transgender workers experienced harrasment or mistreatment, and over half of LGBTQ workers heard homophobic jokes while on the job.
3. How does homophobia impact students in the school environment? School environments are greatly affected by homophobia. Even a relatively subtle action such as using terms like “gay” to describe a strong dislike or insult can have an effect on students. The The Victoria State Government Department of Education states that, “Research in Australia found that 61 percent of same sex attracted young people have experienced verbal abuse and 18 percent have experienced physical abuse, on the basis of their sexuality. When asked where they were when this took place, 80 percent said it was at school.” These conditions are not acceptable in a healthy learning environment. On a more local scale, it was recently reported that there was an incident at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara in which a male football player was bullied for his sexuality. The Mercury News reported that the slurs were not unfamiliar to the victim; however, the school was making efforts to prevent this type of harassment. The effect that this behavior has on students is detrimental and could lead to the long-lasting issues.
4. What are the impacts and effects of homophobia? There are many consequences of homophobia, but one of the most prevalent issues is the high rates of suicide and depression among LBGTQ people. A 2018 study from The Bay Area Reporter, an organization focused on the study of LGBTQ news, stated, “The study found that suicide attempts were highest among transgender males, with 51 percent reporting at least one suicide attempt. The second highest attempted suicide rate was among nonbinary youth, with 42 percent, while 30 percent of transgender female individuals reported attempting suicide. Nearly 14 percent of all the participants reported a previous suicide attempt.” Additionally, according to The Century Foundation, “LGBT individuals are more than twice as likely as straight individuals to have a mental health disorder,” which can greatly affect their lives.
5. What other impacts are there? In addition to mental health struggles, the LGBTQ community had higher rates of substance use and addiction. The Addiction Center states that an estimated “20 to 30 percent of the LGBTQ community abuses substances, compared to about 9 percent of the population as a whole.” Because of the struggles that the LGBTQ community is forced to face, they often turn to drugs or alcohol in order to self-medicate. The most common substance used in the LGBTQ community is tobacco, which The Addiction Center states LGBTQ people use “up to 200 percent more than those who identify as heterosexual.” Alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines and heroin are also common substances that LGBTQ individuals use at higher rates.
6. What causes homophobia? People all around the world justify homophobia through many different reasons. One of the most prevalent reasons is religion. According to American Magazine, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law,” and that “the homosexual orientation itself is viewed as an ‘objective disorder’ since it can lead to ‘disordered’ acts.” The church begins this early, installing homophobic views in people starting from a young age.
7. Should schools teach students about the LGBTQ+ community? According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne from Psychology Today, people “define themselves in terms of social groupings and are quick to denigrate others who don’t fit into those groups.” This concept applies to the LGBTQ community, as, within most heterocentric societies, heterosexual people “fit in” and LGBTQ people do not, an idea that could be easily refuted with proper education. According to the Century Foundation, “Increased knowledge about LGBT people leads to lower levels of discomfort toward this community, and thus can reduce anti-LGBT discrimination.”
8. What is the role of politics in the LGBTQ community? In our country, several laws have been made in response to LGBTQ movements. According to Lambda Legal, the right for same sex couples to get married is a national law. Furthermore, there are several protective laws against the discrimination of employment or healthcare based on both sexuality and gender. Unfortunately, not all states in the United States have the same protective rights and homophobia is still very prevalent even within many states.
9. How does homophobia affect politics? Despite the many rights and protective laws for LGBTQ members, many politicians still outwardly project their homophobia. NBC News recently published an article reporting on the statement that Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis made, where he voiced that “gay people would not go to heaven.” This statement caused outrage throughout California, especially considering this comment was made in front of a group from the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Conference who’d come to volunteer and donate food for those in need. This event led to outrage as several LGBT Californian politicians spoke out in response.
10. What resources are available? Because of the countless struggles that LGBTQ individuals are forced to endure, there are many useful resources that they may reach out to for support. For example, The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention efforts among the LGBTQ community. Additionally, many cities have LGBTQ youth spaces. San Jose has the LGBTQ Youth Space, a program of Family & Children Services, that hosts events for the LGBTQ community and offers free and confidential counseling for youth in need. There are also many nonprofits focused on achieving equality for the LGBTQ community, such as It Gets Better Projects or the Gill Foundation. These organizations wish to secure equal opportunities for all people regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
FEATURED IMAGE (at top of post): The LGBT community is often represented by the “pride flag,” which is displayed above. PHOTO CREDIT: American Civil Liberties Union