LGBT Members Among Students in a College

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Our society is an everchanging place. We implement something new, adapt, and either accept or reject. However, while this may seem like an easy procedure, it is not. There are tons of backlash that is given, and much criticism that people give. These new things that our society implements can be policies, laws, or personal beliefs that an individual or group feels the need to express. No matter what it is that is being implemented, there is a long process that the idea has to go through in order to be accepted or rejected. Even if the topic is approved, more times than not there is controversy over it. Our society loves to highlight controversial topics and drag them on for an extended period of time. A highly discussed topic that our society is debating is a policy for lesbians, gays, and trans students in Idaho. 

The topic of LGBT members is something that has been more of a recent discussion. With more individuals coming out about their sexual orientation, it has made the topic more popular among our society. Perhaps a more pressing matter is students coming about them identify. If a policy was put into place it would focus on protecting LGBT members from discrimination in Idaho. This would protect individuals in the workplace, youth, and adults in schools, and when an individual goes to an organization.

Causes 

As of right now, Idaho has the Idaho Human Rights Act in place. This act essentially protects people against discrimination based on disability, race, sex, and other personal characteristics. However, this act does not protect sexual identity or sexual orientation. Thus said, Idaho currently has laws and policies in place to protect certain LGTB acts. Acts such as same-sex marriage, adoption, and military service are legal. Yet presently Idaho does not have a specific policy to protect LGBT students in any way. While there is a community of LGBT members, students that are LGBT are bringing new attention to the topic. These students are faced with a new challenge when presenting and being open about their identity. Students who are in college are more likely to come out about their sexual orientation, due to the fact they feel they will be more accepted on college campuses. 

In association to that, our society is now seeing high school and middle school students come out about their orientation. Even though students of all ages are coming out, they are often facing difficulties in their everyday life when they come out about their sexual orientation. While there has been more acceptance within our society than what we started with there is still controversy on this topic. There are several reasons why students may what policy to protect themselves. It helps protect against bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Many students feel that if they had the policy to protect them, then they will feel safer. 

Looking at Idaho specifically, their schools have been depicted as a place where they are, “unequipped and “unsafe” for non-gender-conforming students” ( Brunch, 2019). Most of these schools are deemed unequipped due to the fact there is no policy in place for protection. Likewise, most students feel unsafe because of that factor. Overall, “…only thirteen cities have come together to adopt ordinances protecting LGBTQ residents from discrimination” (Idaho, 2019). In an article titled Invisible students, missing programs and policies: taking responsibility for the safety and academic success of the LGBT population it states that, “Only 13 percent of colleges have non-discrimination policies inclusive of sexual orientation and just six percent are inclusive of protections for transgender student” (Windmyer, 2012). 

Furthermore, there is only national support of seven percent for LGBT students (Windmyer, 2012). With a low percentage of support seen in schools, there is bound to be bullying. Bullying has been a big issue in recent years, as we have even seen some individuals take their own life. Bullying within the LGBT is no different, and in fact more likely to happen. In a nationwide survey, the results within the LGBT community were alarming. “75% of LGBT students reported experiencing verbal harassment (including threats of violence), 74% expressed being verbally harassed related specifically to their gender expression…” (Kosciw et al., 2014). A lot of these individuals are bullied solely because of how they identify. 

In the study done by Kosciw and colleagues, they concluded that “… among LGBTQ students, victimization is a “normalized element(s) of their daily lives” (Kosciw et al., 2014). Looking at these distressing results, it is easy to see that bullying within this community is a problem. The above statistics show just how much of an impact there is on these individuals. One can see that without a policy put into place, the likely hood of a youth or adult getting bullied is a lot higher. Not having a support system for these groups also makes it a struggle for these members to feel accepted within society. 

Outcomes 

Taking what was presented above, there are many different outcomes that could happen without a policy in place. Looking at bullying specifically it shows that, ” Compared to generalize victimization bullying related to perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity is associated with more severe negative outcomes regarding mental health, substance use, and truancy…” ( Russell, Sinclair, Poteat, & Koenig, 2012). With that being said, mental health in our society has been an ever-growing issue, it has been brought to light some concerns. 

In fact, “recent US estimates of adolescent past-year mental health diagnoses indicate that 10% demonstrate a mood disorder, 25% an anxiety disorder, and 8.3% a substance use disorder (Kessler et. Al. 2012). These percentages show just how difficult it is for people that come out about their orientation and the difficulties that they face. The results get even more alarming when being compared to the general population. For major depression, the rate for the general population is 8.2% for LGBT members it is 18% percent. Regarding PTSD 11.3% of LGBT people experience it, as opposed to 3.9% of the general population. 

Suicidal thoughts for LGBT members are at a whopping 31%, while the general population is at 4.1 % (Kessler et al 2012) (Nock et al 2013). Overall, one can see the rates of mental health concerns when a policy for LGBT students is not in place.  

Solutions/ Support 

As far as solutions and support there are different programs out there for students. The Pride Foundation is an organization that is in support of LGBT members. This group is mainly made up of volunteers and other board members. This organization has taken a stance in several different states including Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Montana. Their aim is to help LGBT members feel that they can be accepted within society. The group focuses on many different age ranges, even including school-aged students. 

Another support group Idaho has is the Idaho Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling. The group primarily focuses on giving counseling and support to LGBT members. They mention that they understand the hardship that members face and want to be there. Not only do they support members, but they want the community to be educated on the topic. They would like them to see companies be more aware, competent and understanding of different members. 

At the University of Idaho, they have their own LGBTQ support group. Their vision is as followed, “Our vision is for U of I to become a campus that promotes the full inclusion of LGBTQA students, faculty and staff.” (University of Idaho). The group wants to promote acceptance of students that choose to come out about their sexual orientation. Overall, all of these support groups have on thing in common. That goal is to help better the lives of LGBT members, no matter what stage they are at in life. They group what to see acceptance among people in society, in order to promote a safe environment. As discussed above through research, many members do not feel safe. More importantly, the students do not feel safe at their own schools, which inhibits their education. 

What Now? 

To sum it up, after doing research I believe developing policy for LGBT students in Idaho would be beneficial. As discussed in the causes paragraph, Idaho does not have a specific law protecting individuals who identify as LGBT members. This affects students quite a lot because it can inhibit their education. The time between adolescence and adulthood is a critical time for individuals when it comes to their social and emotional development. As stated in the book Sociology the essentials it states, “Social approval and social taboos make some forms of sexuality permissible and others not” ( Seidman 2014; Lorber 1994). 

Most students who go through any type of bullying, would most likely not want to go to school. They might feel as if a school is not a safe and secure place to learn, which in my opinion it one- hundred percent should be. If students are being harassed and discriminated against, they may even develop mental health issues. In fact, as seen through research, students or individuals who associate with being LGBT are more likely to experience mental health issues. Most go through depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, etc. As a society, we know that to have these issues is not healthy for an individual to go through. With that being said, why should we let it happen to these individuals? People’s actions towards these members, only increase the probability an individual will develop a mental health problem. If we could help decrease some of these percentages, why as a society wouldn’t we? 

In order to solve this problem, I believe a couple of different things need to happen. First, schools should have support groups in place. If a child does not have a support group while going through a difficult time, they are more likely to struggle. Most individuals choose not to come out and keep it to themselves because they feel they will not be accepted within the community. Support groups could be led by teachers within the school. If a group of students then accumulates, it can be turned over to students to lead. This would allow students to feel more comfortable about their identity and would get them connected with other students who identify differently. Developing a policy for students would also allow them to not be “outed” at school or by their parents. 

Thus, protecting them and their identity. Students would be able to exercise their first of amendment right of freedom of speech. All students have the ability to do this, however, the students would not be discriminated against. Second of all, having a developing a policy for students, as well as other individuals, outside of a school environment is critical too. Feeling safe within an environment has to happen no matter where the individual is at. I believe it is the right of an individual to feel safe and secure where ever they go. As of right now, there are some companies that do not serve people who identify as LGBT. I personally believe that this is ok. With that being said, I believe it comes down to having respect. 

Our society as a whole has lost respect for one another. We pick apart each other’s imperfects and choose to highlight them. Instead, we should allow an individual or group to express themselves with how they look and feel. After accepting this, our society needs to learn to let the issue go. Our society has a really hard time allowing someone to express themselves and just move on and be respectful of another person’s decision. Regarding students, I believe they have the most struggle due to the fact that school is a big part of a person’s life. If there is no respect given immediately, then issues will occur. Not everyone in our society is the same, and that is the beauty of it. If everyone was “cookie cutter” and the same, then our world wouldn’t advance in some areas. As stated at the start of the paper, our society is an ever-changing place, and we are the only ones that can control it.

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LGBT Members among Students in a College. (2021, Apr 29). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/lgbt-members-among-students-in-a-college/

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