Strides were made in the LGBTQ+ community on June 26, 2015, as same-sex marriage was finally legalized in the United States. However, just five years later, this right is under fire once more as at least two Supreme Court justices continue to vocalize their disdain for the outcome of Obergefell v. Hodges. It is crucial that we as a people unite to educate ourselves about the history of discrimination against this community and join the fight for equality before it is too late.
The Obergefell v. Hodges case, legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States, was one of many pivotal moments for the community. This case and events like the Stonewall riots in 1969 and the first pride marches play a key role in our history. The part injustices have in the fight for the LGBTQ+ community is crucial to note as well. The AIDS epidemic, which reached the United States in 1980 and has killed millions, has wrongly and widely been considered a problem only affecting homosexuals, and another reason to warrant discrimination against them. Such occurrences, no matter how joyous or sorrowful, continue to inspire many activists and allies to keep fighting for the right to be viewed and treated as equal.
It is important to realize how much effort, energy, and pain goes into this fight. Members of our community may currently have the right to marry someone of the same sex, or to attend pride festivals during the month of June, but we have not been, and still are not completely equal.
More recent studies clearly show discrimination against minorities continues to be a pressing issue. The newest and most comprehensive research, published by Science Advances, found that LGBTQ+ people are four times more likely to be victims of violent crime. It was only in June of this year that the Supreme Court ruled it illegal to discriminate against or fire someone in the workplace on the basis of sexual or gender identity, and, in 29 states, there are few or no explicit protections for such minorities from discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations.
LGBTQ+ teens are increasingly under fire as well. A survey released in 2018 by the Human Rights Campaign found that, of over 12,000 LGBTQ+ teens, 67 percent reported hearing family members make negative comments about LGBTQ+ people. In school, Title IX protects students from discrimination or exclusion on the basis of their sexual and gender identity, but many are still forced to struggle with their mental health as a result of being bullied or belittled by peers. According to the CDC, LGBTQ+ youth contemplate suicide at nearly three times the rate of heterosexual youth, and they are almost five times more likely to have actually attempted it.
Knowing this, it is crucial that we all join the fight for the rights and voices of the LGBTQ+ community, regardless of sexual or gender identity. This is not an issue we can push to the back burner. This is a matter of basic human rights and decency, not religion or personal choices. The wellbeing and lives of our family, friends, and future generations are on the line. Now is the time to be on the right side of history.