Libra Academy at Linda Esperanza Marquez

They’re here! They’re queer! Get used to it!

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. As the news spread, “Love Wins” was trending all over social media. As President Obama put it, “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else.”

A few months later a question came up, how accepting is our community of LGBTQIA members? Even though society has progressed a lot throughout the years and is more accepting of the LGBTQIA community, our community is still built on traditionalist views. Most of the community consists of Latinos who don’t accept these members, but rather judge them instead. We might not have many members of students that are open members of the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community at our school, but they have definitely shown bravery throughout their high school journey and by living in such a traditional community.

Coming out of the closet

It takes a lot of courage to reveal that your sexual preference is different from others. Some of these students have been really open about their preference at school, yet have not told their parents. However, most of these students have found it difficult to be open about their sexual preference. They’re afraid of facing rejection from their families and everyone around them. They’re afraid of being verbally and even physically abused by their classmates. This is not an easy process as it takes a lot of courage to go through with it.

Senior Martin Parral shares his experience. “It was pretty hard at first. I kept denying it during middle school, but as soon as I got to high school, I didn’t care. I told the new friends I made here, and they didn’t think twice about accepting me.”

Life at Libra

Given that Libra Academy is a small school, students find out about news very quickly. It’s no surprise who the LGBTQIA members at our school are, and they are proud of it. But how has the Libra environment affected these students? There are many students at our school who are open-minded and accept anyone regardless of their sexual preference. These students have truly played a crucial role in the lives of the LGBTQIA members at our school. They have allowed for them to be their true selves rather than having to keep their identity a secret. Parral feels that “Libra has added to my confidence because I can be myself and I’m accepted by almost everyone.”

However, not everything has been bright and dandy for LGBTQIA members at our school. They have faced harassment, some more than others.

“I still won’t forget the experience of walking into the boy’s locker rooms and finding out that my locker had been sketched with a key,” said junior Kevin Cervantes.

Cervantes sarcastically stated that his locker “contained a very special word of encouragement and inspiration, ‘FAG!’” This goes to show that even if the majority of our school supports these students, there is still the occasional student that brings nothing but negativity.

In regards to the non-supporters, Cervantes said, “Students who don’t personally agree with my views, instead of offending me, simply stay out of my way!”

Student Reactions

The Libra environment, for the most part, has proved to be a welcoming place for the LGBTQIA community. Students have stood by their friends since they revealed their sexual preferences and have not looked back since.

“I’ve never really witnessed any negativity towards the LGBTQIA community at Libra. We don’t reject them for being different. Instead we accept them. At the end of the day, it’s their body, their choice, and we don’t have the right to judge them for that,” said senior Veronica Tadeo.

She also added that teachers don’t discriminate against them, and there are a lot of students, including herself, who are close friends with LGBTQIA members.

The LGBTQIA community is beginning to be more accepted throughout the United States. This new generation does not judge people based on their sexual preference and is much more open-minded than past generations. Here at Libra, LGBTQIA students are welcomed and for the most part are not looked down upon, if anything they are praised for their courage. It’s difficult to make such a stand in a traditional community, but Libra is proud to say that it has some of these brave students. Regardless of the circumstances, these students know that our school is here to welcome them and treat them like any other student.