A letter to Bellefonte: a war against queer youth

A+letter+to+Bellefonte%3A+a+war+against+queer+youth

Emma Homan, Staff Reporter

By EMMA HOMAN

 

    Recent legislatures in states across the country have shown a consistent and dangerous pattern. Day by day, anti-transgender bills barring youth from affirming healthcare and anti-queer bills banning the education of all youths on any form of non-heterosexuality in classrooms spread nationwide. It’s a frightening prospect as more and more Americans are stripped of their rights to privacy and affirming healthcare, placing them in danger as homophobic and transphobic lawmakers play with their safety and security. It is saddening to add that many of these hateful sentiments linger within our own community, something that we as a whole should be steadfast against.

    Gay and transgender people make up an observable population in Bellefonte, and a recognizable population in its schools. Queer and transgender youth also make up a very fragile population nationwide, with high suicide rates in children and teens not accepted by guardians or their community. The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ organization dedicated to suicide and harm prevention of queer youth reported that in the year 2021, 42% of LGBTQ youth considered suicide, including more than half of transgender youth. Alongside this, 94% reported that recent politics had a negative affect on their mental health. 

    Recent politics would include the colloquially named “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed in Florida, removing any and all mentions of sexuality and gender in classrooms and forcing schools to “out” gay and transgender students to their guardians, according to flsenate.gov. Alongside this, a recent Texas bill named any and all transgender healthcare child abuse, allowing for the removal of transgender children from supporting parents, and the arrest of doctors providing gender reassignment healthcare, according to texas.gov. Many other similar bills have been passed or put under congressional meetings in other states such as Alabama. 

    These bills disregard the net positive affects it has on queer youth to be provided safe and accepting environments. The Trevor Project in the same 2021 survey reported that Transgender and Nonbinary youth that had their pronouns, names, and identities respected in legal documentation and communities had a decrease in suicidal ideation and attempts. This also applied to queer youth with access to affirming spaces. With bills forcing transgender children to be taken from the homes of their accepting parents and into possibly more hostile environments in the foster care system, it’s no wonder that many activists and queer populations have began campaigns to repeal such bills.

    While no such law has been passed or considered in Pennsylvania or the Centre County area, homophobia and transphobia are present within the student body and the parental body. Recent school board meetings have involved parents calling for the removal of pride flags in classrooms, utilizing stereyotypes against transgender students, fighting against open discussion about sexuality and gender, and queer students face bullying and harassment from other students daily. 

     This is a letter to the students, parents, and citizens of Bellefonte. Queer people are here. We are human, gifted, and flawed just like any other resident of Bellefonte. The discrimination we face runs deep, and we face it every day from both family and the government. It roots itself into our communities and causes direct harm to children simply trying to explore their identities and who they love, and to the adults worn down by years of abuse, often separated from their families and friends simply due to who they are. I call you to action, to protect our youth from discrimination and pain and to look inside of us all and realize that we are all, unequivocally, human.