Civil Rights Belong to All U.S. Citizens

Laws are not enough: The general population must stop the harassment of the LGBT community



Maribel Ojeda and Prowler Editors, Reporter

In a national survey of 15,600 high school students, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed what some would say is common knowledge: LGBT students are more likely to skip school; suffer from depression; have suicidal thoughts or actions; and be bullied, harassed or sexually or physically abused than straight students.

With LGBT students making up about 8 percent of the population, meaning approximately 1.3 million students, it is time to put an end to the discrimination, rising death toll and abuse that this large community endures each and every day, and recognize that members of the LGBT community should be given the same rights and privileges as all other citizens.

When it comes to basic needs, the LGBT community comes under fire. In May, the Justice Department sent South Carolina officials notice that their law, which banned people from using government-owned restrooms and locker rooms that don’t match the gender written on their birth certificate, violated rights protected by the federal Civil Rights Act.

While that seemed like a step in the right direction, LGBT bathroom concerns became the top political issue of a nation on August 22, when a federal judge in Texas created a judicial order to keep the federal government from taking legal action against a school that did not agree with the Justice Department’s stance. Whether or not transgender people should pee in the bathroom of their choice, because of religion, equality or privacy, became national gossip, and sanitation which is a basic human right, became talked about like a privilege.

With the controversy and the fear of being assaulted because of physically looking like one gender but walking into a restroom of another, some transgender people said in news releases that they find it easier and safer to deny themselves of healthy sanitation practices than to enter a restroom at all during their work or school day.
Restroom use is just one of the most recent issues facing the LGBT community.

Even though gay marriage was legalized on June 26, 2015 Texas still remains problematic for LGBT partners who wish to make their union legal. In fact, Irion County still refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay partners, making Texas the only state other than Alabama holding out. Rather than respecting that the LGBT community should have the rights to live in union with a partner of their choice, In Texas and across the country, there are still people who make it their mission to publicly harass and protest the rights of other humans. By shouting that gay marriage is not natural, that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and that couples who cannot make babies should not get married, protesters continue to make a normal life impossible for the LGBT community.

The lack of rights for the LGBT community doesn’t come from a lack of trying. On June 28, President Obama designated a new national monument at the site of the Stonewall Uprising to honor the LGBT equality movement. The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the 60’s, was raided by police and a riot broke out that lasted six days, which lead to the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement.

Yet, with opposition flooding social media with fears, equality cannot be maintained. “Well, what about rape?” or “I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a guy dressed as a girl/girl dressed as a guy peeing in the stall next to me” gets passed around from electronic device to device and person to person. So do the phrases “God doesn’t like gay people” and “You want me to spend tax dollars giving them special privileges?”

Therefore, it is not up to the lawmakers anymore to stop the negative effects of targeting a subsection of American people. It’s up to us, the people, to make a difference.

No matter what skin color or sexuality or religion people are, everyone has the same rights under the U.S. constitution and should be treated as equals.

Let people in the LGBT community know that you understand that they are human too and speak out when you see people who have the potential to cause others mental and physical suffering.