For those who are straight and cisgender, a person who considers themselves their born gender, LGBTQ issues don’t come to mind on a daily basis. The LGBTQ Student Alliance hosted a discussion in the Campus Center Atrium for all students interested in discussing or learning about LGBTQ issues in Indiana.
Though marriage equality has been won this past June, there have been numerous bills introduced such as the Religious Freedom Act and proposed bathroom bills to limit the freedoms of the LGBTQ community.
The intersection of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation make it difficult to appropriately study the LGBTQ community. Some people deal with issues from one demographic. Others face discrimination from more than one.
Intersectionality is defined as “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”
Even though marriage equality has been won, someone can still be fired in Indiana for being LGBTQ.
Someone in the crowd called out they were free to get married, but also free to get fired for showing signs of their personal life. Currently there is no federal law protecting the rights of LGBTQ employees. 21 states have added protections, but Indiana is not one of them. In spite of this, Indiana is considered an employment at will state.
Beyond just being afraid of being fired, many discussed overheard comments or uncomfortable conversations about themselves or LGBTQ people in general. One out of every 25 complaints made about workplace discrimination comes from LGBTQ employees.
Another issue that doesn’t relate to discrimination, but encourages equality is balanced sexual education programs. Currently, there are no school programs that include transgendered information. There are very few that mention being gay or lesbian. For children and teens who already have many questions regarding sex and their bodies, this leaves a huge gap.
The media plays a huge role in what society has deemed acceptable behavior. LGBTQ are largely underrepresented. If they are it’s highly stereotypical. Very rarely are there LGBTQ characters on children’s shows.
Caitlyn Jenner was also brought up as a bad example of the media picking one person to represent a group of people.
"The media wants simple, one person answer. One person to represent a group. I feel they want that. For example with Caitlyn Jenner, I always thought she was crazy and the media ran in and framed her as a hero and now they're taking a second look,” Alice Hoenigman Jones said about Jenner’s representation.
Caitlyn Jenner recently received backlash for saying that she does not support the right to gay marriage.
“I think the media does that a lot and I think people do that a lot. I think both people and the media are not very discerning when it comes to jumping on the bandwagon," Jones said.
For many, transgender issues are an afterthought. It is clear that they are among the most targeted and need the most protection. 97% of transgender people have reported workplace harassment. 41% have attempted suicide. 19% will experience violence or abuse from a family member. This year so far 21 transgender people have been murdered in the U.S.
The reasons why are relatively the same: fear. However, education can bring more understanding Today’s age is much better for a member of the LGBTQ community than it was 20 years ago. There is still much work to be done.
Resources are out there now for everyone to learn about LGBTQ issues and how to get involved. The LGBTQ Student Alliance meets on Mondays at 6 p.m. in the Taylor Hall UC104.