Pride was celebrated internationally in June, but for others, including me; it is a daily fight to be ourselves every single day. Every day, I can’t help but wonder if we are actually making progress or if we are taking steps back in history. When you look at events that are taking place across the world where people are either gaining their rights to marry the person that they love, or men are dictating what happens to a woman’s body and taking away their rights to have an abortion based on something that does not affect them. Are we actually moving forward?
When anyone’s rights are threatened or taken away from them, this affects us all as human beings because if you put everything to the side when it comes down to it, humanity comes first. We all have the ability to speak, to fight for our rights and injustices to ensure that we fight for those who are oppressed. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
People forget, being LGBT+ is not a choice, it is not a phase, it is not a trend that people jump on, it is not something to make money from, it is not a PR stunt; Being LGBT+ is a part of our identity, it is a part of who we are. End off. This is the time we should be uniting together, shoulder to shoulder and fighting for our rights, for what we deserve and what others take for granted.
Currently, in the UK, issues such as whether children should be taught about LGBT+ relationships in schools are continuously at the forefront of the media. This makes me question what as a society are we achieving; Why is transphobic aggression so apparent today? Why are we not allowed to teach our children that it is okay to be different? Do these people who are protesting even know what LGBT+ stand for?
In my opinion, teaching children from a very young age is the best way to stamp out homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Children are not born knowing any prejudices, they are blinded by their innocence. From a young age, values and beliefs are heavily ingrained into children by their parents and families. Children are very open-minded and intelligent enough to understand that love comes in different forms, shapes, and sizes. Not one size fits all.
Some children have one mum or one dad, some have one of each, some have two mums or two dads; the point being everyone is DIFFERENT and no one has the right to invalidate another person’s experience. Everyone’s love is equal, and that is the one thing that we all have in common. We all want to be loved and to be accepted for who we are. We should be celebrating diversity as that is where our strengths lie, we all have so much to bring to the table, and yet we let our differences divide us.
Children learning about love and relationships is healthy if taught in the right capacity. Some children from a very young age, know that they are LGBT+. We, as adults, should make this child feel loved, feel accepted, and respected by us. Yet, the most typical responses are “it’s just a phase.” This invalidates how they are feeling and suggests that this crucial part of their identity is something that can change, or it is something that they will grow out of.
To educate children about LGBT+ relationships would help to normalise homosexual relationships. If parents, family members, and the community are fighting for their children to not be taught about these sensitive topics, what type of message is this showing to your child? In my opinion, I feel that these actions are sending out a strong message to children; ultimately suggesting it is not okay for them to be who they are. The collateral being that if your child ends up self-identifying as LGBT+, they may feel unaccepted and damaged.
It would help children to accept themselves from a young age and prevent them from suffering from severe mental health issues that continue on into their adult life and beyond. According to Stonewall’s school report, “96% of gay pupils hear homophobic remarks such as ‘poof’ or ‘lezza’ used in school. 99% hear phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘You’re so gay’ in school. 54% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people don’t feel there is an adult at school who they can talk to about being gay. Worryingly, 6% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual pupils are subjected to death threats.”
Those are just some of the statistics that I could find as it was very challenging to find statistics to express the severity of this issue. The fact that these comments are heard so often in schools speaks in volumes. Education is key to eradicating LGBTphobia, without education, this issue will continue to rob young children of their lives as bullying can, in some cases, lead to suicide. One life lost due to bullying is one too many, I can’t even begin to quantify how many lives have been lost due to this.
What is it going to take for people to sit up and listen? This is an issue that affects everyone, whether you have children or not, this affects us all as a society. All too often, people only take a stand when either they lose a loved one in these horrific circumstances or know of someone who has. Stop being ignorant and oblivious and be more vigilant. Don’t allow this to happen to you or anyone else.
I would like to conclude by saying this to all the parents, guardians and anyone else reading this; your child is precious, your child is beautiful as they are and there is nothing wrong with them. Accept he/she for who they are, and as good parents should, love your child unconditionally. Please keep an open mind and listen to your child when they turn to you; If you ever come forth with such circumstances, make sure that when he/she decides they are ready to own their identity that you make them feel loved. Respect them and their feelings. Do not be dismissive. The way you react can be the difference between life and death. Every life is precious. If you are LGBT+ and reading this just know that you are beautiful as you are, you are enough, there is no limit to what you can do, you are not alone and you are loved.