Voices - a series of sameness

“It’s not about changing your mind, it’s about opening your eyes.” ~ Lynda Wolters

Voices of LGBTQ+

The second in my Voices series, Voices of LGBTQ+ is a collection of stories and input from those in the LGBTQ community. It covers life from their perspective including the ups and downs and pitfalls of living in a culture where being LGBTQ is still thought of as a choice and where many basic civil and human rights are not defined for them to protect them against discrimination. It is a conversation starter for those who have someone in their life who is LGBTQ as well as for those who may be afraid or angered by LGBTQ people. Come walk a mile in their shoes with me and see if we can start some positive dialogue to help this marginalized group of people feel more accepted and less fearful.

Voices of LGBTQ+ is currently in the editing process.

Expected release early spring, 2020.

 
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statistics - Homelessness, Suicide, Acts of Violence, Finances, health care

  • It is estimated that 1.6 million youth experience homelessness each year in the United States, forty percent identify as LGBT. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA Law, LGBT youth represent about 7 percent of the population which puts the 40 percent figure into perspective.

  • Some 46 percent of homeless LGBT youths ran away because of family rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity; 43 percent were forced out by parents and 32 percent faced physical, emotional or sexual abuse at home

  • A study of youth in grades 7-12 found that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers.

  • Unfortunately there is not much data available regarding the transgender population. One figure states 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.

  • Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. EACH EPISODE. Meaning every gay slur increases the likelihood of self-harm behavior by 2.5 times. Every discriminatory comment on television directed to the transgender community, every religious leader heard saying those in the LGBT community are going to hell, every incidence no matter how big or small increases their likelihood of self-harm behavior by 2.5 times.

  • Violence toward youth in the LGB community (sorry, again lacking sufficient data in most areas on transgender persons) has some shocking numbers behind it. According to data from the 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), of surveyed LGB students:

                10% were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property

                34% were bullied on school property

                28% were bullied electronically

                23% of LGB students who had dated or went out with someone during the 12 months before the survey had experienced sexual dating violence in the prior year

                18% of LGB students had experienced physical dating violence

    18% of LGB students had been forced to have sexual intercourse at some point in their lives

  • Nearly 80% of transgender people report experiencing harassment at school when they were young.

  • Transgender people are four times more likely than the general population to report living in extreme poverty, making less than $10,000 per year, which sometimes pushes them to enter the dangerous trade of sex work.

  • While sexual minority men were found more likely to have earned a college degree than heterosexual men they earn less money and report more economic hardship than their straight counterparts.

  • Based on the near, at and below poverty levels of many in the LGBTQ community, health care is often seen as simply too expensive and gone without. Only 4 percent of sexually active gay and bisexual men in the U.S. use PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent the transmission of HIV. The study found that most sexually active gay and bisexual men aged 18-25 are not tested for HIV annually as recommended and 25% of young men have never been tested.

  • Sexual minorities in the U.S. have fewer economic resources than their straight peers. These hardships were more pronounced in the female population who were more likely to be near poor, have received public assistance and reported economic hardship more so than heterosexual women.

  • In 2017 it was estimated that 150,000 youth ages 13-17 identify as transgender in the United States, which equates to approximately 0.7% and 0.6 percent of U.S. adults (1.4 million individuals) identify as transgender. A 2016 study by the CDC found that approximately 8% of high school students identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, which at the time was approximately 1.3 million youths. Yet only 12 states that teach sex education are required to discuss sexual orientation. And of these 12 states three require the schools only disseminate negative information about sexual orientation. The remaining nine states mandate inclusion, providing science-based information that addresses sexual orientation; four of those states require public-school teachers to cover gender identity.

Photo by  Brittani Burns  on  Unsplash

Use Inclusive language and affirmative work place signs

When referring to people in general, try using words like “partner” instead of “boyfriend/girlfriend” or “husband/wife,” and avoid gendered pronouns, using “they” instead of “he/she.”

In the work place, posting a sign that specifically states, “We provide equality of services and care to everyone, regardless of age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation” will let all people know it is a “safe space.” An easy way is to simply post, “EVERYONE welcome.”

Stay away from slang words unless specifically given permission

While those in the LGBTQ community may call themselves names like, “dyke”, “fag”, “queer”, or “tranny” it is NOT okay for you to do it. And if you feel you must try these words on with your friend or family member, get their permission. These words are derogatory and completely inappropriate otherwise. “Homosexual” can also be seen in a negative light, use it cautiously. It is best to stick with the more accepted, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning.