Most people would agree that today’s society is much more accepting than it has ever been. Gay marriage has been declared constitutional, and there is progress in laws allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity, not their assigned-at-birth sex. But although progress has been made, there is still so much discrimination and inequality in the world, even within our own states, cities, and schools. Kids still get bullied for being themselves. Hate groups try to protest the rights of LGBT citizens. The nation is still very divided when it comes to expressive freedom vs traditional expectations. Religion and politics make it difficult to set a standard when there are disagreements within disagreements. Who you are could be highly influenced by who you were raised by and where you grew up. In contrast, the people who raised you could cause you to become the exact opposite of them, typically to become more accepting. Whether one believes that sexuality and gender identity is a choice or not, most people can agree that being the minority (in any sense of the word) can be very difficult, even seemingly impossible at times.
One Shorian, who realized that she liked girls when she was in seventh grade, didn’t come out until sophomore year. She didn’t intentionally come out. She had told her friends, but not her aunt. Her aunt discovered from social media. Religious beliefs within the family caused some conflict, but things have since settled down some. She believes that people are too judgemental towards the LGBT Community because they make assumptions based on stereotypes. “They judge things based on what they’ve heard,” says the anonymous senior. She believes that the government has too much control over the rights of the LGBT Community, that the government treats them as puppet; Controlling what they can and can’t do. Even so, she wears a smile on her face for being herself, “I wouldn’t change myself for anybody.”
One student, discovered that he was gay after a game of “spin the bottle.” It was supposed to be a joke, but after the experience, he realized that the kiss meant something more to him. “I just remember liking the feeling it gave me, it felt right.” He came out about one year later. His family was against it at first, “My family was not a fan at first because they feared for my safety in school and in public places. It has sort of calmed down since, but still some family disagrees with it.” Today, he is openly gay and very prideful. “I am pretty comfortable with being out as homosexual, no one was really bullied me for it and everyone is way more accepting than I thought they would be.”
A junior Shorian realized that she liked girls in eighth grade and she came out after she graduated that grade. Her family had mixed reactions, “My cousins were super supportive and happy for me, but my parents reacted a lot differently. They didn’t want to believe me and still try to pretend like I never told them about it. My mom is trying to accept it, but my dad just plays ignorant when it comes up.” Religion isn’t really a part of the problem to her family. The main issue is just adjustment. “It’s mostly because for most of my life they thought ‘…Our little girl is going to grow and have a beautiful family with a nice man’, and I guess it’s hard to change that.”
Detective Cherie Mascarello, who runs Lake Shore’s GSA, has witnessed significant progress in the LGBT Community over the past 20 years. “Society is changing, people are opening their minds. This new generation of adults was raised in a changing era and they are, in-turn, raising their children to be more accepting.” Laws have given the LGBT Community many more rights over the years. “When gay marriage was legalized a few years ago, it was historic. A landmark decision.” Giving the people the right to their beliefs doesn’t guarantee equality. There is always opposition. “The older generations are stubborn in their beliefs. You can’t change their minds.”
A lot of religion denounces homosexuality and challenges gender identity. Around the globe, gay marriage is still a concept that seems unattainable. It may not be a possibility for lovers in this generation. A few lifetimes and countless broken, beaten, despaired hearts realize that their countries turn their backs on citizens. Many take for granted the rights we are given; the rights that so many would metaphorically, and quite literally, die to have… and similarly, many are attacked and killed for their sexuality or gender identity. Some countries still practice arranged marriage (parents choose the person who will marry their child), so gay marriage is a far reach. Inequality is a global tragedy.
While it’s true that gay marriage is legal and schools have laws protecting students from discrimination, and even though Lake Shore has it’s own GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance), bullying is still very real and close to home for so many. Bullying isn’t always as direct as harassment or physical harm, people use the term “gay” as an insult, people make jokes about transgender people such as Caitlyn Jenner, poking fun at her situation. It’s easily observable to recognize discrimination, even on a tiny scale, such as not wanting to do a group project with a gay student. Stereotyping is a very dangerous, especially when barriers are constantly being broken. Sexuality does not define what a person’s hobbies are, or how their voice sounds, or what they wear.