By Ellie Schneider, age 12
Homophobic hate crimes against my uncle, Arjay Baker, and his husband started three-and-a-half years ago, when a neighbor began to use homophobic and racist slurs against them. The hate reached a tipping point after a high-power pellet gun was fired at their window in June, for which the neighbor is now facing multiple criminal charges. Most of the people in their town in New York state recognize the neighbor as homophobic and appreciate that Arjay and his husband continue to stand up for social justice.
This is just one example of hate crimes faced by the LGBTIQ+ community in the United States. According to the FBI’s 2019 Hate Crime Statistics report, 19% of all hate crimes in the United States were against LGBTIQ+ people. Over the past few years, anti-LGBTIQ+ hate groups in the United States have increased by 43%, and according to USA Today, some advocates suggest that the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric may explain this increase in violence toward certain groups.
The Trump administration has said that the laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex don’t apply to the LGBTIQ+ community, which the Supreme Court recently ruled against. According to USA Today, since Trump’s inauguration, there have been 201 incidents of election-related harassment, including incidents that target the LGBTIQ+ community and people of color, although the true number is thought to be considerably higher. Trump has also attempted to ban same-sex couples from adopting.
Despite all the negative events happening to the LGBTIQ+ community, the Supreme Court passed a decision in June that prevents people from being fired based on their sexuality or gender identity. There are changes we can make that will help lower hate crimes against LGBTIQ+ people. One important change is adding information about the LGBTIQ+ community to students’ curriculum so they learn inclusivity from a young age. Those voted into power should also use their platform to spread inclusivity instead of preaching hate.
Homophobia: Showing hate toward someone or bullying them because they are gay
Hate crime: Crimes, like hurting someone or damaging their property, motivated by hostility to the victim because they are a certain sexuality, race, gender, etc
Slur: An insulting remark
Inclusivity: All people being respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities regardless of their sexuality, race, gender, etc