Inequality and Discrimination LGBTQ Face

Hugo Lopez SOCI 1306 April 7, 2019 M. Laurel-Wilson Inequality and Discrimination LGBTQ Individuals Face Ever since early ages, LGBTQ individuals have been coping with discrimination. The severity of the issue varies from lynching to even avoiding sitting right next to them. These issues can also vary from public spaces (train station, school, bus), to even their workplace, and even at home where they do not get support from their family. Having to face this discrimination daily is why so many individuals do not “come out of the closet”. Being afraid of being discriminated against, facing inequality, and not being accepted by their own family is what triggers suicidal thoughts in many LGBTQ individuals. Knowing that they will not gain the support of their parents or friends hinders their mental health. It can cause mental problems such as anxiety and depression.

Now, how severe is the effect that discrimination has on LGBTQ individuals? Does discrimination perpetuate the inequality they cope with? As stated by Joanna Almeida, Renee M. Johnson, Heather L. Corliss, Beth E. Molnar, and Deborah Azrael (2009), “Accumulating evidence indicates that adolescents who have same-sex sexual attractions… are more likely than heterosexual adolescents to experience depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and to make suicide attempts” (Almeida et al., 2009, pg. 1001).

This is something that most if not all LGBTQ individuals cope with daily. They are faced with a constant fear of being discriminated against and even physically attacked just because of what they identify as. Being discriminated against is a huge reason for the higher likeliness of depression compared to heterosexual individuals. Almeida et al., also mentioned small research that involved 55 adolescents that identified as transgender, the results suggested that “more than one-fourth reported a prior suicide attempt” (pg. 1002). This goes to show how severe the mental distress that LGBTQ individuals deal with. They feel like they have no escape, that their only escape is taking their own life away. It is shameful that there are people out there that feel this way because their schoolmates or even family do not accept them for who they are. They are faced with these conflicts because of numerous factors that contribute to it.

What exactly are the factors that contribute to these conflicts that many LGBTQ individuals deal with? According to Erin Wilson, Yea-Hung Chen, Sean Arayasirikul, H. Fisher Raymond, and Willi McFarland (2016), a study of transwomen in Australia found that higher levels of psychological distress were associated with factors such as little to no family support, young age, and experiencing more events where they are victimized (Wilson et al., 2016). This also correlated to the findings in which transgender youth had higher rates of depression and anxiety than cisgender youth. However, what can have an impact on better mental health for transgender individuals? Wilson et al., stressed that parental support is of vital importance.

They deemed it as “the most consistently protective resiliency promoting factor for mental health disorders and psychological distress” (pg. 2208). Those who experienced parental support reported lower incidents in suicidal attempts as well as depression. Moreover, transgender individuals who faced discrimination because off their identity had “unequal access to education, employment, and other economic resources” (pg. 2203). They do not only face these problems because of religious beliefs that the perpetrator may have, but also because of policies that have managed to uphold inequality and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals throughout time. These are problems that they face everywhere even in communities deep in the border of southern Texas.

As many know, LGBTQ individuals have been oppressed throughout time. They do not only have to put up with slurs being yelled at their face but with workplace inequality. According to Jill E. Yavorsky (2016), “through structures and practices, workplaces tend to privilege certain groups—historically white men—in the process of achieving high-level organizational goals” (pg. 948). These practices reinforced the high standards for white men which then also perpetuated cisgenderism-the ideology that delegitimizes those whose sexual identity differs from their assigned gender at birth-in the workplace.

What cisgenderism does in a workplace is not only demote females but those who go against normal concepts of gender as well, such as trans people (Yavorsky, 2016). By doing so it is perpetuating both sexism and cicsexism. It is perpetuating the discrimination that LGBTQ individuals face in the workplace. The discrimination that does not only reinforce the inequality they face but also the mental difficulties that they must cope with. Yavorsky conducted in-depth interviews with 25 trans women who have had six months of working experience both before and after their gender transitions (Yavorsky, 2016). The aim of the interviews was to see the experiences of both before and after the gender transitions to analyze whether there would be a drastic change. Unsurprisingly, there certainly was a drastic change.

One of the findings that was uncovered was that nearly half of the trans women interviewed “reported that coworkers perceived them as less competent than coworkers previously did pretransition” (pg. 959). Their coworkers tended to perceive them as less capable and tended to call them out on things a lot more. This is something that they would not experience prior to their gender transition. It is something that hurt their self-esteem and put them vulnerable to mental distress. Inequality in the workplace is one of the major impacts on the LGBTQ community.

It is something that should not go unheard of in local news because many do suffer from it. According to Anna Brown (2013), a pew research survey indicated that equality in the workplace is of vital importance to LGBTQ individuals. The survey involved 1,197 LGBT individuals and about 57% stated that equal employment was of ”top priority” (Brown, 2013). The survey also indicated that of those 1,197 individuals 53% stated same-sex marriage as a top priority along with 47% saying treatment for HIV/AIDS is of top priority. These both policy issues along with others such as adoption rights, support for LGBT youth organizations, and health insurance coverage of transgender health issues fell short to equal employment rights. This goes to show how important having equal employment rights to the LGBT community is.

The survey also provided that about 21% of LGBT workers reported being treated unfairly by an employer (Brown, 2013). By being treated unfairly they were subjected to slurs and jokes that further harmed their self-esteem. This only further pushed them into a mental state of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. A mental state that no one deserves to be pushed into because of what they identify as. Will equality in the workforce improve the well-being of LGBTQ individuals? What effects will it have on the LGBT community as a whole? According to Ilan Meyer (2016), “while 21 states provide legal protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, 29 states do not provide such protections” (Meyer, pg. 1357). This is over half the states that are not providing protection for LGBT individuals when it comes down to employment discrimination. They are practically letting them get discriminated in the workplace since they are limited to the actions that they can take to defend themselves.

Furthermore, Meyer also stressed that LGB individuals (lesbian, gay, and bisexual) who live in better and healthier social environments tend to have a healthier mental state than those who do not (Meyer, 2016). These social environments include those that support the LGBTQ community along with the states that provide legal protections for employment discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. Laws that grant protection and equality are of vital importance and are surely a solution for the inequality that LGBTQ individuals face.

However, an important point to know is that even though “laws are a necessary foundation to achieve equality… protections under the law are not sufficient to eliminate prejudice” (pg. 1358). A prime example of this would be race dilemmas in the United States. It doesn’t matter how many laws are established to provide equal rights to all races, many races such as African-Americans and Hispanics will be victims of prejudice. This is something that will be unavoidable for until the day where everyone accepts each other for who they are comes. A day in which African American boys and girls shouldn’t fear walking down the street and in which LGBTQ individuals can comfortably be themselves without getting discriminated against. Throughout history many laws perpetuated the inequality of LGBTQ individuals. In 1998 a case involving the individuals Tyron Garner and John Lawrence surfaced.

Both these individuals were caught having sexual intercourse which was prohibited by a Texas statute (Leon-Guerrero, 2016, pg. 208). This case was then heard by the Supreme Court in 2003 where it was argued that the Texas statute was an “invasion of their privacy and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it unfairly targeted same-sex couples” (Leon-Guerrero, pg. 209). Fortunately, this case was overruled in that same year. It was a huge step towards progress for the LGBTQ community and their fight for equality. It ignited hope within those that were oppressed. Furthermore, one of the major changes in laws that ceased hopelessness in many LGBTQ individuals was the ruling that took place in 2015.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the states were not prohibited from keeping same-sex couples from marrying (pg. 211) This was due to the ruling in 2013 where Barrack Obama influenced the downfall of DOMA, which were the ones permitting the states to ban same-sex marriages. The ruling was a huge milestone for many advocates of the LGBTQ community. The ruling sparked hope for equality within the LGBTQ community not only for same-sex marriage issues but hope for future policies that will aid them in abolishing the inequality they face. Solving the oppression that the LGBTQ community faces daily is not an easy task. It is something that may even be impossible to achieve, however, something that is achievable is creating a safer environment for the LGBTQ community.

In order to do so, a proposal would be to involve the community-especially parents and future parents- into LGBTQ support groups. By involving parents and influencing them into being supportive of their LGBTQ children a factor that perpetuates psychological distress (the lack of parental support) is eliminated. As stated earlier, parental support is valuable, and as stated by Wilson et al., “youth with higher parental closeness had significantly lower odds of psychological distress” (Wilson et al., 2016, pg. 2208). By influencing parental support in the community, the rates of youth who do have parental closeness will only go up. This will not only change current dilemmas that LGBTQ individuals face, but it will pave the way for future generations to feel a lot safer in their own skin.

A problem in Laredo, a southern city in Texas, is that most parents there are heavily religious. By being so, the acceptance and support for LGBTQ individuals is slim. This causes a lot of mental distress in LGBTQ individuals along with inequality, however, the solution proposed earlier will certainly help diminish that distress. It will help change the way that they are viewed as which will lessen inequality. The solution proposed will provoke more acceptance for the LGBTQ community which will greatly impact their progress.

In conclusion, LGBTQ individuals have been oppressed for decades. From being victimized in public spaces to even victimized private spaces by their family. By experiencing discrimination, they face not only psychological distress such as anxiety and depression, but it also leads to inequality in the workplace. Fortunately, with the advancement of policies that aimed at creating a safer equal environment such as allowing same-sex marriage nation-wide, hope for a brighter healthier future was no longer dull. Though policies and laws are a great step towards equality, much more than that will be needed. What will be needed is a healthier social environment in which everyone supports each other regardless of what they identify as. A starting point for this will be a focus on parental support. Current and future parents should be heavily influenced to support their LGBTQ children. This will positively impact future generations to come.

References

  1. Almeida, J., Johnson, R., Corliss, H., Molnar, B., & Azrael, D. (2009).
  2. Emotional Distress Among LGBT Youth: The Influence of Perceived Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(7), 1001-14. doi:10.1007/s10964-009-9397-9 Brown, A. (2013, November 4).
  3. As Congress considers action again, 21% of LGBT adults say they faced workplace discrimination. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/11/04/as-congress-considers-action- again-21-of-lgbt-adults-say-they-faced-workplace-discrimination/ Leon-Guerrero, A. (2016). Social problems: Community, policy, and social action (5th ed.).
  4. Thousand Oaks: Sage Productions. Meyer, I. (2016). The Elusive Promise of LGBT Equality. American Journal of Public Health, 106(8), 1356-1358. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303221 Wilson, E., Chen, Y., Arayasirikul, S., Raymond, H., & Mcfarland, W. (2016).
  5. The Impact of Discrimination on The Mental Health of Trans*Female Youth and The Protective Effect of Parental Support. Aids and Behavior, 20(10), 2203-2211. doi:10.1007/s10461-016-1409-7 Yavorsky, J. (2016). Cisgendered Organizations: Trans Women and Inequality in The Workplace. Sociological Forum, 31(4), 948-969. doi:10.1111/socf.12291
  6. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/11/04/as-congress-considers-action-again-21-of-lgbt-adults-say-they-faced-workplace-discrimination/ https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/11/04/as-congress-considers-action-again-21-of-lgbt-adults-say-they-faced-workplace-discrimination/”
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