I want to live in a place where I don’t have to fight tooth and nail just so that people in my community can feel safe. I haven’t found that place yet. It isn’t where I am now.
I want you to be aware of the statistics. I want these numbers to be ingrained into your mind, something you know like the back of your hand:
- 80% of transgender students feel unsafe in schools due to their gender expression
- 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetime, nearly nine times the rate in the U.S. population
- Roughly 75% of bisexual women have been victims of sexual and inter-partner violence, and 46% of lesbians
- 40% out of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+ (many of whom are on the streets due to being kicked out for their gender and/or sexuality)
- 20-25% of gay and lesbian people total have reported experiencing hate crimes in their lifetime
I could pull up many, many more instances of violence with a single search, but I hope I’ve made my point clear.
I need it to weigh heavily on your mind that the largest-scale mass murder of LGBTQ+ people happened in the summer of 2016: it didn’t happen centuries ago, or decades ago, but just mere months before you were elected. It happened right here, in America, the country that has chosen you to protect it. Are you prepared to protect us?
I need you to be aware of how LGBT people of every age, race, sexuality, gender, income level, and location in America are highly susceptible to hate crimes, abuse, sexual assault, homelessness, bullying, discrimination, and murder. I need to know that it terrifies you as much as it terrifies me, as much as it informs my every decision, as much as it impacts my ability to trust others or express myself. I need to know this on behalf of myself, a lesbian teenager, and on the behalf of every single queer person I’ve ever met, befriended or loved.
I need you to hear me when I speak for the sake of all LGBTQ+ people who are forced to suffer in silence. Kept quiet by their society, by their family, by their religion – being able to make my own voice heard is a privilege, and it’s not one that I am willing to waste. I am inspired by the activists before me and constantly learning from them – I model myself after their bravery, knowing that I’ll need it to make an impact that improves the lives of those in my community for good.
We need you to make a change—something real, something tangible, something lasting. You want to make this country truly great? We’ll believe it when we see less of our friends, less of our heroes, less of our innocents suffering, fighting and dying.
Someone who’s scared. Someone who’s angry. Someone who won’t back down.
Writing by Sarah Orgiyvsky
Art by Alyson Flescher
Join us February 16 as students perform their work live through spoken word, music, video and theatre on in Downtown LA. RSVP here.