The struggle that the LGBTQ youth of America face is far more than a few cruel words.
Imagine this: it’s a regular summer’s day 2015, the overbearing heat is beating down on your face and you’ve taken to sitting in front of a fan in your living room to escape a sunburn.
As you’re mindlessly flipping through channels, you get a frantic call from your friend. “Turn on the news!” they say. “You’re gonna want to see this.”
Confused, you turn on the news channel with a quirked eyebrow. And there on the screen stood President Barack Obama, making the monumental announcement of same-sex marriage finally becoming legalized.
You’re ecstatic, moved to tears even. The basic human right to love who you chose to was just legalized nationwide. You and your partner could eventually get married and live the fairytale life you had always dreamed of.
You go to sleep that night, the happiest you’ve ever been. But, the teasing never stops. It becomes worse, if that could have been possible.
When you leave the house the next morning, your mother calls you worthless, among other hateful slurs, cursing the law that passed the previous night as you close the front door.
Walking down the street, a number of insults are being thrown at you, some more intelligent than others. Some more hurtful than others, too.
How many things were being screamed at you? You weren’t sure anymore, you lost track at somebody telling you they hope you die.
It’s hard to imagine being treated like that, isn’t it? Even for one day only, it’s more than heartbreaking to be seen in that kind of light.
For the LGBTQ youth in America, that is their everyday. As sad as that is to hear, it’s the truth.
From being denied rights to the proper bathroom, schools prohibiting name changes, to even being left outside during a school safety drill because administration doesn’t know whether to put them with the boys or the girls, the LGBT youth in America face much more than a couple cruel insults.
In 2013, two-thirds of the LGBTQ homicide victims were transgender women of color. That’s 33 crimes.
Picture the students sitting around you in any one class, and that’s how many people fear for their lives at any one point in time. Serious enough for you yet?
Then, in 2015, out of the 7,121 FBI recorded hate crimes, 19.8 percent of those targeted were people of a different sexual orientation or gender identity than their assailant. Especially after the same-sex marriage ruling, this number went up astronomically.
LGBTQ people are twice as likely as African American or Jewish people to be involved in a violent hate crime. On top of that, they are four times as likely as Muslims to be a victim of these crimes.
If these statistics surprise you, that’s good thing. There is a scarily high amount of people unaware of just how much hatred and injustice happening around them.
What can we do to stop this? Well, there’s protests, clubs and marches. Getting involved in any one of these events can make a difference.
First things first, though, get educated. Seriously. You may think you know enough about the struggles they face daily, but you more than likely don’t.
Google searches take all of about ten seconds and you can find articles that will explain these deep-rooted issues in a simplified way. There’s no excuse for you to not be educated about something as serious as this, so get googling!
Safe spaces, safe spaces, safe spaces! Has it been said enough times yet? Hopefully so, because 40 percent of young adults in the LGBTQ Community say they live in a city or area where being anything but heterosexual is frowned upon.
By creating safe spaces like the Gay-Straight Alliance and LGBT inclusive clubs and events, they can provide an area where kids can be who they are and stay free of judgement.
Find a local pride march near you and attend it. Even for just an hour, attend one and see just how much having one day/month dedicated to this community only means to them.
June is the month solely dedicated to those of all varying sexualities and gender orientations, so finding and attending a pride march or parade near you won’t be difficult.
Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it there so much, it’ll become a yearly event for you to attend. The community would surely appreciate it.
Even something as simple as telling a member of the LGBTQ Community that you support them and you’re always going to be an ally helps promote a safer environment.
It may not seem like much at the time, but many of these youths don’t have somebody in their home or social lives that will support them, and reaching out to say you’re here for them means the world to them.
This isn’t something to be put on the back-burner and ignored. It’s real and happening right now. Maybe even in your own home or school.
So, get out there and get involved. Advocate for those who are too afraid to, speak out for the quiet transgender boy in your math class that gets slurs and notebooks thrown at him.
Be the voice you want to hear and be the change you want to see. One voice is always better than none at all.