LGBTQ+ education in schools protects the community


Photo By Jay Paulson

A person holds up an LGBTQ+ Progress Pride Flag. According to the UCLA School of Law, people committing hate crimes such as those against the LGBTQ+ community have gotten increasingly younger over the years.

     Imagine going to school and learning about one of your best friend’s death on a news website. You would feel shocked and upset. I know this because I experienced this. Not only did I learn my best friend died, I learned that she was brutally murdered by two of her peers because she was transgender. The worst part of this is that it could have been prevented. 

     Brianna Ghey was barely 16 years old when she was fatally stabbed in a park near Warrington, England. She was killed by a 15-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl. It was a targeted attack on Ghey because she was transgender. Her peers didn’t understand her identity, and that led to terrible things. However, this misunderstanding could have been avoided if it was a requirement to teach children about the LGBTQ+ community in schools.

     Many people fear what they don’t understand. The unknown can be a terrifying thing. The National Institute of Health claims that when people are scared, they experience a fight, flight, fawn or freeze response. The two most common responses are fight and flight. The fight response could mean physical or verbal fighting. Both are still damaging. The fight response is the response that can be the most irrational. This could put innocent people at risk. Especially in the case of the fear of the unknown. Those in fear don’t know who or what they are fighting against. A person could be trying to just live their life as themselves and be attacked for doing that. Is this really how we want to raise this incoming generation?

     It is imperative that we teach the new generation while they are still young. According to a study on child imitation from Psychology Today, children will mimic the behavior around them. This can be physical behaviors or the opinions of those around them as well. Therefore, if the people around them are against the LGBTQ+ community, the children will likely pick up on that behavior. However, the same goes for the opposite. 

     As a child, I grew up learning that the idea of LGBTQ+ people was bad. This was damaging in many ways as I grew up. Especially when I found out I was a part of the community. It led to self-loathing that developed into depression. All because I didn’t know who I was. When I eventually found out, I was taught that it was a bad thing. When I eventually learned the correct term (transgender) for who I was, I began to accept myself in my personal identity. It would have been so beneficial to have the experience of knowing about the LGBTQ+ community when I was young. We have the power to give the new generations what some of us never had.

     If we don’t teach them, another bad possibility that could happen is that a child could meet someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community and think wrongly of them. This encourages the idea that discrimination is okay in certain circumstances. That as long as it aligns with their idealizations, it is okay to discriminate against a group of people. This normalizes discrimination and hate in the child’s life, potentially before they even reach their teenage years. Or they could grow up thinking that violence against the LGBTQ+ community is okay. This makes them more likely to commit violent acts against the community as well as any community they disagree with. 

     This normalization of hate can lead to violent crimes, such as the one committed against Ghey. According to the UCLA School of Law, the people committing these crimes have gotten increasingly younger over the years. This creates a terribly unsafe environment for anybody in the community or even allies to the community. To minimize this dangerous situation, we must teach people about the LGBTQ+ community.

     People often say that teaching about sexual orientation is too mature for kids to learn about. However, this doesn’t make much sense considering it is normalized to talk about a girl having a crush on a guy or vice versa. Being heterosexual (straight) is a sexual orientation. How come we can learn about that and not about two boys having a crush on each other? The only difference is the gender of the people in the relationship.

     “The LGBTQ+ community is not pure sex and mature [content]. It is people living as themselves,” transgender teen Adam Walker said. The community is just trying to love who they love, and people are misinterpreting it because they simply do not understand the situation.

     A way to teach the new generation about the LGBTQ+ community is to start it off with the basics. You wouldn’t start teaching a kindergartener about Calculus, instead, you would start with learning the numbers and simple addition. The same goes for teaching people about the LGBTQ+ community. A teacher could start off by saying that it is okay for a girl to like another girl and a boy to like another boy. This introduces the idea of other sexual orientations in words that young kids understand. When you’re teaching kids about gender identity, you can explain that there is no specific way to be a girl or a boy. It’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re not whatever sex you were born as. By putting it in an easy-to-understand way, you can normalize acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. This would therefore limit the amount of fear towards them because of the newfound understanding the children would have. 

     I think a lot about my friend Brianna Ghey. I think about how she would have been an amazing activist for the community. I think about how she would have stood up for this cause. However, because of the lack of education about the community, she was silenced. We can prevent a lot of situations like this from happening to other people in this community if we just educate ourselves and the generations that will come after us.