The Effects of Violence Against the LGBTQ+ Community
The LGBTQ+ community have fallen victim to too many crimes of violence due to the stigma placed around being part of the community creates. This has caused many people that are part of the LGBTQ+ community to worry for their lives, with many of them unable to truly be themselves for fear of retaliation. While the world has taken steps to be more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, many people have decidedly kept their own homophobic views.
What the Research Says
People often assume that, just because there have been steps taken to normalize being part of the LGBTQ+ community, such as the commercialization of pride month and the inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in popular media, that homophobia and violence toward LGBTQ+ persons is over. However, many studies point to LGBTQ+ persons still being more at risk of violence, including both physical and sexual assault, bullying, and hate crimes.
Also, despite the idea that the world has become more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, the violence rates against LGBTQ+ persons has not shown any improvements since it was originally measured in the 1990’s. As a matter of fact, recent studies have actually pointed to victimization worsening in some forms, particularly in those that affect LGBTQ+ youth.
In 2011, 7,713 hate crimes were reported. Of these 7,713 reported hate crimes, 20.4% were sexual orientation related hate crimes. It has been found that hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community outnumbered those committed for religious reasons in 2011.
Studies have found that those who have suffered from a violent attack or victimization due to their sexual identity tend to suffer from mental health conditions, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts. They have also been found to participate in more sexually risky behaviors, putting their health at risk. Their achievement and desire to participate in school or work begin to dwindle.
These statistics prove that, despite the world appearing to be more welcoming and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, they still suffer from being at risk for violence or victimization. The world has a very long way to go in protecting members of the LGBTQ+ community, whether it be through laws, protections, or further normalization.
Ways the World Can Improve the Safety of the LGBTQ+ Community
The world has a long way to go in order to make it a safe place for LGBTQ+ persons. Violence and victimization toward LGBTQ+ persons can happen anywhere, at any time, especially at places like school, home, work, and in the community. These organizations should take the steps necessary to protect those who are in the LGBTQ+ community from victimization and violence.
Schools should begin by educating their employees to raise awareness on spotting bullying victims, how common violence and victimization is toward the LGBTQ+ community, and using the correct terminology. The school should implement an open-door policy that makes the students comfortable to speak to the counselor or another employee about any harassment, bullying, or victimization they are experiencing. When an employee notices or is told about violent or victimizing behavior toward an LGBTQ+ student, they should take action against the bad behavior. This will help put a stop to the behavior, as well as make the environment feel more welcoming the LGBTQ+ students because they know that their reports will be heard. Planning school-wide activities and being visibly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community as a school will also help LGBTQ+ students feel more welcome. Many student face a lot of abuse online from their school peers. Addressing cyberbullying at school hours, through adding policies against cyberbullying, educating students, teachers, and parents on cyberbullying (including the effects, what it looks like, and signs that somebody is being cyberbullied), and taking action against cyberbullying can work to help prevent and protect students from cyberbullying.
Work-places should also work to create a diverse and welcoming environment to everyone, regardless of sexual identity. Policies should be set in place to prevent any violence or victimization toward LGBTQ+ employees or customers. When harassment, violence, or victimization is reported in the workplace, it is crucial to take action against it. This ensures that your employees feel protected and safe to report instances of inappropriate work behaviors.
What to Do if You Have Experienced Violence or Been Victimized
When you have been victimized by bullying, harassment, or violence, you may feel confused on what you should do next. You may feel alone and scared. However, there are many resources you can turn to after being victimized.
To begin, know your rights as an LGTQ+ individual. Marsy’s Law, which is also known as the Victims’ Bill of Rights, provides victims with the right to be treated fairly, with respect, with reasonable protection from the offender, and the right to be present and heard at criminal proceedings. Understanding these rights can give you the confidence you need to pursue a case against your offender, if you decide to do so.
Regardless of whether you decide to press charges against your offender or not, seek help after being victimized. There are tons of LGBTQ+-specific organizations that can provide you with the resources you may need after being the victim of a hate crime, violence, bullying, or harassment. Many of these resources provide crisis intervention, safety planning, therapy and counseling, help with reporting, court and social services advocates, and more.
LGBTQ+ people are at a high risk of experiencing violence, hate crimes, and harassment due to their sexual identity or orientation. Because of this, many people in the LGBTQ+ community fear showing their true selves when in certain situations. Despite perceptions that the world has become more accepting and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people, crime statistics have shown otherwise.
If you have been the victim of harassment, violence, or a hate crime, know that you do not have to go through this alone. Seek therapy, reach out to trusted friends or family members, take steps to help ensure your safety, and be kind to yourself. Most importantly, take care of your mental health and wellbeing throughout this process. You will get through this.