LGBTQ Challenges Faced Today
LGBTQ Challenges Faced Today
On June 26th, a five to four ruling in favor of same-sex marriage from Supreme Court made the act legal in the United States’ entirety. Before the event, only thirty seven of the fifty states allowed it.
While the momentous occasion is certainly something to celebrate, members of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies should keep in mind that though a battle’s been won, the war is not over. Prior to the ruling, there had been a myriad of other obstacles to consider, and post ruling, they still exist. Marriage equality, though a huge step in right direction, is not the be-all and end-all. With that in mind, here is a list of other issues which should be pursued and worked on as actively as the issue of same-sex marriage was.
VIOLENCE - Members of the LGBTQ+ community often face high amounts of violence, motivated by the unjust hostility of others. In 2013, a total of 21.3% of all hate crimes in the United States were committed due to either the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity, behind only race which found itself accounting for nearly half, at 48.5%. These numbers cause even more shock when one compares the quotas of violence toward homosexuals to cisgenders. Studies show that gays are found to be victimized at 8.3 the average rate.
MENTAL HEALTH - Social stigma, intolerance, and personal struggles can have heavy tolls on one’s mind, and in the LGBTQ+ community, this is especially true. All those factors weigh heavily, especially since the movement is a relatively new one, whose work is far from over. This means that hostility is still present, and along with other circumstances, it may be particularly burdensome to cope. Those in the community are found to be 2.5 times more susceptible to mental health disorder than heterosexuals. The stakes step up among youth, where questioning, acceptance, and other facets of growing become stressful, on top of living in an environment where scrutiny from all angles is not only a possibility, but a reality. Suicide questioning in LGBTQ+ mintors is 3 times more likely and four times more likely in GLB adolescents, while up to a quarter of transgender youth has attempted taking their lives.
HEALTH CARE - When health comes into play, LGBTQ+ persons have a particularly difficult time policing their well being for a variety of reasons. This could firstly be viewed as a result of their lack of healthcare. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, when compared to their heterosexual counterparts face significantly higher levels of difficulty when attempting to access health care. Additionally, men-to-men sexual interactions account for 50% of people in the US living with AIDS, but only 2% of the general population. This could be a consequence for lack of actions earlier in life. In the United States, only 22 states and the District of Columbia require sex education, and 12 of those discuss sexual orientation. Further, of that already sparse group, the educators in 3 are instructed to provide negative information on being anything other than heterosexual, compared to the 9 that speak of it in a positive light. When a lack of background comes into play, the sexual relations that LGBTQ+ youth experience later in life are tinted with uninformed actions that could have catastrophic effects on them.
POVERTY/HOMELESSNESS - Often times, members of the LGBTQ+ community find themselves in difficult financial situations, or on the streets due to either money, familial, or a myriad of other personal issues. The latter is a particular issue with adolescents; only 7% of individuals aged 12-18 identify as LGBT, yet that group makes up 40% of homeless youth. The struggle does not let up once these individuals reach adulthood and attain jobs, however, as lesbian/bisexual women and gay/bisexual men were found to have substantially higher poverty rates when pit against their straight counterparts.
All these obstacles should be treated as vital points toward a world where love truly has won. The fact that there are still prices members of the LGBTQ+ community have to pay simply for being themselves should not be tolerated.
And, this is in no way meant to be a complete list; there are other hindrances to overcome. Look to the 75 countries with state-sponsored homophobia, or lack of protection of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace; recognize that same sex couples are commonly denied when attempting to adopt a child and the particularly high risk of violence toward transgender women of color.
By all means, continue to celebrate the momentous occasion, keep your rainbow tinted avatar in place, but do not forget that just because one step has been taken that we’ve finished the entire journey. There’s still a long way to go, but I have confidence that one day, we’ll make it.
Cassidy is a sophomore at Glenbrook South High School in the suburbs of Chicago. She is extremely passionate about social justice, and particularly is concerned with the effects of sexism, racism, and LGBTQ+ oppression in everyday life.