Thousands upon thousands of teenagers in the United States identify as LGBTQ+. In fact, the Human Rights Campaign emphasized that at least 8% of the entire US population consider themselves a part of the community. Despite these numbers, I feel that there are not enough resources for teenagers to reach out to and discuss their thoughts. Furthermore, there are still governments such as Florida’s that promote anti-LGBTQ+ views, which cause detrimental effects on the mental health of teenagers that identify with the community. In a way, government officials force these people into isolation out of fear that they will not be accepted or even comfortable in public spaces such as school.
As of August 2022, Florida’s government has banned lessons that relate to the LGBTQ+ community in classrooms that teach kindergarteners to third graders. Many teachers have explained that they normally never really discuss these topics in class, so their ways of teaching will not be altered. However, this law sheds light on a bigger issue. Rather than continuing our progress in making society a safe space for the community, there are setbacks from government officials that want to promote views of hatred against a group. This law can put teachers and other faculty members who identify with the community in danger of losing their jobs. They are not able to make their classrooms safe spaces for this discussion anymore.
Furthermore, teachers who wish to hang pictures that showcase their same-sex marriages are hindered by this law. Thousands of teachers nationwide have pictures of their families on their desks. However, those who identify as LGBTQ+ are not allowed to spread their happiness in the same way. Laws like these also make teenagers feel unheard and closed off from the rest of society. In a way, since government officials such as Florida are passing laws that prohibit the discussion of "being gay," the youth of communities may begin to feel like something is wrong with them.
This situation is an example of what we as a society should be trying to change. We need to make sure future generations of LGBTQ+ people feel heard and welcomed in every public space. Things such as Florida’s law indirectly contribute to the hatred that people in the community already deal with. If you or anyone else feels unheard, I encourage you to look towards resources such as the Trevor Project.
—Written by Oscar Araujo
Oscar Araujo is a volunteer at the Pio Pico Koreatown Branch and a senior at Fairfax High School.
—Oscar Giurcovich, Young Adult Librarian, Pio Pico Koreatown Branch