People who care about justice should stop targeting LGBTQ+ youth
By: Sol Thamilarasan – 2023 Summer Intern
Imagine yourself as a kid who was always kept in a binarized box. You weren’t allowed to express your true sexuality or gender identity and everywhere you turned, there was prejudice towards you.
That’s the reality for many LGBTQ+ youth. Many grow up in an environment where the LGBTQ+ community is heavily opposed, and it impacts their journey to self-acceptance and self-discovery.
Lawmakers around the country who recently passed anti-LGBTQ+ bills haven’t helped. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest queer civil rights organization, keep tabs on anti-LGBTQ + legislation and they say over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures. As of May 2023, they say more than 145 anti-LBGTQ+ bills have been passed in at least one chamber.
In Pennsylvania, three bills have been proposed, and they are extremely prejudiced against queer lives.
For example, House Bill 216, targets transgender athletes in schools and colleges, it restricts students who want to change to a different gender from participating in their preferred gender section of a sports team.
One student said she felt “very targeted and mistreated by these laws.” She and others said such laws violate their privacy, and they are restricted from expressing their true identities.
In addition, these laws cause havoc among the wider community. Many transgender people have been fleeing from Florida and Texas due to recently launched anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
One person who recently fled Texas told me, “I personally think that restricting LGBTQ rights and stuff is a direct violation of the first amendment because part of it protects the right to freedom of expression, and it’s all about expressing sexuality and gender identity.
“So really,” she said, “conservatives should look at the document they claim to love before they go after LGBTQ people.”
Bills like these perpetuate hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican state lawmakers have been intent on passing anti-LGBTQ laws. This has caused many queer people to feel unsafe in their own homes.
Because of these laws, doctors can deny gender-affirming healthcare to queer people. And queer students could not be identified by their preferred pronouns in school.
Such laws also negatively affect those who are queer and of color, and the NAACP says such laws are hostile towards minorities as well as the LGBTQ + community.
People who care about justice and equality should demand their legislators stop targeting the LGBTQ+ community, and they should support organizations like the Trevor Project that helps educate people on the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community.
Organizing peaceful protests or marches also can be highly effective in supporting LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as contacting legislators and standing up for equality for all.
Sol Thamilarasan wrote this opinion piece while interning for the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg and PA Media Group. It was published here.