LGBTQ+

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning)

LGBTQ+

Many historical ups and downs have reflected the LGBTQ community’s rights and privileges in America. It was only in 2015 that the Obergfell v Hodges ruling legalized gay marriage. This allowed same-sex couples marriage rights equal to heterosexual couples nationwide. Yet, the LGBTQ+ population still struggles for equal rights in many states. They face discrimination in hiring, education environments, and more.

What is LGBTQ+

LGBTQ+ is a shorthand anagram for the queer and gay population. The anagram stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer. The + signifies the many remaining diverse queer populations, like Genderfluid or Asexual. The community consists of those apart from the traditional sex and gender binaries.

The terms sex and gender are misused. This causes misunderstandings in education and understanding of the population. Sex consists of the biological attributes of an individual. Gender refers to a person’s socially constructed roles, behavior, and identity. Sexual orientation refers to the preferred type of person to whom one may or may not feel emotional or sexual attraction. These can consist of biological features or social roles and behaviors.

The diverse community consists of individuals striving to live to their authentic selves. Regardless of sexual preference or gender identity, they remain American citizens. As such, they should hold the same legal rights and privileges as any other American citizen.

The diverse community consists of individuals striving to live to their authentic selves. Regardless of sexual preference or gender identity, they remain American citizens. As such, they should hold the same legal rights and privileges as any other American citizen.

Current Rights

Though gay marriage may be one of the most recent rights and protections, the LGBTQ+ falls under many anti-discrimination laws. These laws give them the right to equal housing and jobs. Yet some private companies may be exempt from these protections.

  • 1964 Civil Rights Act: prevents discrimination from an employer based on gender identity and sexual orientation status. Yet, this law may fall into different interpretations on state levels.
  • Fair Housing Act 2020: prohibits most landlords from refusing to house based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Federal Marriage Equality: allows nationwide same-sex marriage, alongside the ability to adopt children as a same-sex couple. Includes personal discretion and the right to refuse adoption from private adoption agencies.
  • Passport applicants no longer need to update their gender designation through medical documentation. They can check the box that best applies to them as of 2021. Future legislation will roll out the X option on passports. This lets applicants select X instead of M or F on legal passports.

Many issues remain when fighting against discrimination in the LGBTQ+ community. Due to state interpretations of federal laws, individuals may encounter refusal of services. Though some states, like California, prohibit these acts, many more offer little to no explicit discrimination protection.

Recently, the Parental Rights in Education bill in Florida has drawn criticism. The bill limits the discussion and presence of LGBTQ+ communities within public schools. Limitations include instances banning classroom discussions of the community until 4th grade. It also limits the historical and social discussion of LGBTQ+ events until a deemed appropriate age. Parents and the school system decide upon the appropriate age.

This bill has also affected the older gay community. It limits an LGBTQ+ teacher’s right to display personal photos in the classroom. They can no longer speak on any personal home experience relating to their gender identity and sexual orientation.

What’s Next?

The ability of states to interpret federal laws based on their ideals of right has caused tension within the community. It hinders their ability to receive basic aid and rights afforded to them by being American citizens. We will continue to see discussions on the queer communities’ place in the education system, adolescent rights to identity expression, and private institutions’ right of refusal in the coming years.