By: Laurence Pedroni, JS Major
Recent years have shown ever increasing support for LGBTQ rights and historic progress has been made. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Supreme Court taking up marriage equality are two of the major accomplishments that have been made in the last few years. But let’s not pretend that everything is okay with being gay in the USA. According to FBI statistics, overall hate crimes decreased, hate crimes against LGBTQ increased. 20.8% of hate crimes are perpetrated against someone because they are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer. One in five hate crimes. One in Four Gay men and women will be in an abusive relationship. LGBTQ Youth are twice as likely to be physically assaulted while at school and are two to three times more likely to commit suicide then their peers. LGBTQ Youth make up 20-40% of the homeless population.
Being Gay in America is getting better, but it is a slow and arduous process and for many, deadly.
But out of all of these statistics, there is one thing that ties them back together. None of them were mentioned in a Justice Studies Class. All of these statistics are ones I have compiled and done outside research for. I have been a student within the Justice Studies Department for four years, and in that time I can count on one hand how many times a professor has addressed or mentioned violence against the LGBTQ Community, and four of those five have been the same professor. These issues are often ignored or thrown is an afterthought. I have been on campus and heard students casually throwing the word “faggot” around like it was nothing. I have walked the halls of McQuarrie Hall and heard Justice Studies students do the same, using homophobic rhetoric well within earshot of a professor. Only to have the professor ignore it. The Justice Studies department is in a perfect position to educate it’s students on these issues and open the discussion on Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia that many people still live with. Instead, it has been mute on these issues, sweeping them under the rug.
This essay is not to shame or scold the Justice Studies Department. While I am disappointed with the Department, I hope that instead the Department can look for new ways bring LGBTQ issues into the classroom and not relegate us to the sidelines. No one can argue that these issues do not fit within the scope of the Justice Studies Department and it’s values, that these issues do not belong in a Justice Studies Class. They most certainly do. The Justice Studies Department is one that strives for Social Justice and for building happier, healthier families and communities and LGBTQ people fall into this category. I am firm believer that remaining silent on an issue condones it. So I ask the Justice Studies Department, do you condone homophobia?