Pride month begins in June. The experience of what it is like to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community in high school needs to be told. The LGBTQ+ community has faced consistent discrimination, homophobia, and hate crimes due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. A goal within our community and our society, should be to make those who feel left out and isolated, more comfortable expressing who they are, with no fear of wrongful condemnation. With a lack of conversation, there is a lack of understanding. This lack of understanding can lead to dangerous results, so listening to those who have first hand experience will hopefully help better the stance of those who are already allies, and create an alliance for those who weren’t before.
Pride month is a month constructed to honor LGBTQ+ citizens across the world. A huge tipping point in LGBTQ+ liberation, and the start of Pride month, was the Stonewall riot which began in 1969 in Manhattan, New York. The riots were started by Marsha P. Johnson, a Black, Trans Woman who threw the first brick at the police. Her actions started the riots at the Stonewall Inn. Oftentimes, the history of Pride month is overlooked by those who are homophobic and prejudiced.
Homophobia is a large issue in the U.S due to years of taught and learned hate. This largely affects LGBTQ+ youth, who may live in unaccepting households that are harmful to them, especially when they cannot express their identities. When this is the case, LGBTQ+ youth are at high risk of homelessness because they likely have nowhere to go when their parents do not accept them. According to The Trevor Project, “As a result of family rejection, discrimination, criminalization and a host of other factors, LGBTQ youth represent as much as 40% of the homeless youth population. Of that population, studies indicate that as many as 60% are likely to attempt suicide.” More often than not, people do not realize the harmful effects their negative views on people can have. Statistics showing the large amount of homeless LGBTQ+ youth, and the likelihood of them having something worse happen to them, is heartbreaking.
While conversing with LGBTQ+ students, I found that many have either been a victim of homophobia or seen someone else experience it. The administration tries to prevent it, but LGBTQ+ students often feel as though administration and teachers are not as supportive as they want. Members of HHS’ LGBTQ+ community also said that it was hard to gather whether administration or teachers did not act simply because a comment wasn’t heard, or, because of personal bias of adults.. Many believe that the school, in order to be more inclusive to all students, should have more inclusive talks and lessons based around what it’s like to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community, not just during Pride month. The Hamden LGBTQ+ Task Force is working on creating a more inclusive sex education class because students have asked for it. Health classes will soon touch more on gender identity and sexuality in ways that help people understand others, as well as themselves. The final thing that I took away from LGBTQ+ peers, was that the most difficult part of being in the LGBTQ+ community in school was hearing your identity made into a joke. When people try to diminish the pain and hurt you feel from jokes and comments they make, and when they say that being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is a choice, it is harrowing. It is discouraging to not hear about themselves in classes and how much the LGBTQ+ community has shaped the way we see the world today.
In order to have a truly diverse community, we all need to learn, be accepting, and grow out of negative views we may have once held. When looking at the grand scheme of things, we are all humans, living on the same planet, breathing the same air, and living under the same sun. To go out of your way to make someone feel hated and invalidated, shows the pure pain in your own heart. To be human, is to want to be accepted and loved, and to not receive that is hurtful. Homophobia and hate is taught; it is not innate. Educate yourself, educate others, and lead your life with love. Happy Pride Month!