(Editor’s note: The Vanguard is proud to announce a new project in partnership with Incarcerated Allied Media. Thanks to Dr. Joan Parkin and D. Razor Babb. These articles are published by Incarcerated Individuals at Mule Creek State Prison and part of the Mule Creek Post publication.)
By F. Lee
JUNE MARKED THE annual LGBTQ Pride Month, celebrating and supporting those who are LGBTQ. Equality is part of President Joe Biden’s administration, and he has recently signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination in the workplace due to sexual orientation for all federal government employees. In addition, it allows transgender individuals to serve in the active duty military. The Equality Act — legislation that is pending in the current Congress — adds language to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which already bans discrimination because of race, color, religion, and national origins.
In a recent poll conducted by Gallup, 5.6 percent of adult Americans (about 18 million people) identify as LGBTQ, a rise of more than 1 percent since 2017. This change is attributed to a new generation of Americans who are more tolerant and accepting. Generation Z adults (18-23 years old) are more likely to identify as LGBTQ (at 15.9 percent) compared to baby boomers, born prior to 1965 (at 2 percent). Of LGBTQ adults, 54.6 percent identify as bisexual, 24.5 percent as gay, 11.7 percent as lesbian, and 11.3 percent as transgender.
The shift toward acceptance increases in each generation, providing more exposure and awareness. LGBTQ -inclusive movies and TV shows — such as Love, Simon; Modern Family; Schitt’s Creek; and Riverdale — have become more mainstream and enjoyed by a wider audience, especially younger viewers.
Nevertheless, “coming out” is often accompanied by a fear of rejection from family and friends. It can bring increased conflict to the home and can even be the reason for job loss. In fact, it was once a criminal offense. The good news is that LGBTQ people today have more support from those closest to them, and from the wider LGBTQ community at large. As a result, young people are more willing to explore their identity without serious repercussions. Many even accept a more “fluid” sexual identity rather than selecting just one.
Hardship and bias continues to plague the LGBTQ community while Congress deliberates over the Equality Act. Those against it fear that it tramples on First Amendment religious freedoms and fairness in athletic competition (mainly as it relates to transgender athletes and whether they can compete fairly with cisgender athletes). Violence and discrimination remain a problem for the LGBTQ community, especially for transgender people, even in this new generation of enlightenment.
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