Since the triumphant supreme court ruling in the gay rights movement legalizing same sex marriage, many people are coming to ask “What now?”. What direction will the gay rights movement in North America take? As well as what will organizations like NOH8 and FreedomToMarry.org focus on now? These are terrific questions – ones we are all wondering about.
As so many gay rights organizations have all mobilized around the marriage piece of the gay rights movement, popular public opinion is that the movement is now over. We won!! Right?! In my mind I imagine all these same sex marriage advocates closing up shop and packing their personal office belongings in the quintessential handled cardboard boxes and moving on to other causes. While some may, the vast majority of LGBTQ advocates will be refining their objectives. As the fight is not over.
Legislation is very important. We need the legal system to uphold equality.
However, changing public opinion and authentic application of legal principals takes time. Discriminatory beliefs can be deconstructed however its a process. True equality for LGBTQ persons will take time to work it’s way through institutions and social institutions alike. Discrimination sadly does not end with with passing of a bill, but its “ a damn good place to start”. -Macklemore
Important focuses for LGBTQ advocates now will be more institution and issue specific. For example, those in education will be promoting human rights education and pushing for inclusion of LGBTQ course content in the curriculum. Teaching children about the LGBTQ movement and its heroes will promote anti-discriminatory beliefs in young persons. Which according the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is urgently needed as 91% of LGBTQ youth say they hear negative messages about being LGBTQ. Further top sources are cited as being from school, the internet and peers. Human rights education with a lens on LGBTQ issues is a major priority.
There is an over-representation of LGBTQ youth in the homeless population due to family conflict surrounding their sexuality. According to the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) 2013 study:
- 74.1% of LGBTQ youth were harassed verbally.
- 36.2% were physically harassed.
Of these students 56.7% did not report the incident due to belief that an effective intervention would not occur.
- 61.6% of the LGBTQ students who did report incidents said the staff did nothing in response.
- A whopping 55.5% of LGBTQ youth reported personally experiencing LGBTQ discriminatory policies or practices at school.
This is just a snap shot of one social institution. The effects of discrimination on our upcoming generation are disastrous. LGBTQ youth who experience harassment are almost 50% more likely to miss school than their peers. Their GPA’s are on average .5 lower than their counterparts and are twice as likely not to pursue post secondary education. These are significant human rights issues. Our LGBTQ youth need supporting and protection. They need change in their institutions and among their peers.
For anyone who thought it was time to retire your rainbow flags. I urge you to not. The time to strike is when the iron is hot. The LGBTQ movement is still needed yet, particularly internationally. Let’s build on the momentum of this historical win. We need all of you formidable allies and advocates and the wonderful skills and tools you developed along the way to keep pushing. We can attain true equality globally- together. Love will always win.
Please continue to join organizations like NOH8 on their mission to promote love, acceptance and respect for all human beings #NOH8WorldWide
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