The Beacon Bit: A Youth Perspective - Jan 2016

BeaconBit2015 has been a great year for LGBTQ rights; we’ve seen marriage equality legalized, we’ve seen huge outcries of support for causes and members of the community in need, and we’ve seen more representation in media than ever before.
    Here in our home state, there have been positive changes, but there have also been some not-so-positive ones. Just before Valentine’s Day, Gov. Sam Brownback decided to reverse the order issued by Kathleen Sebelius in 2007 which granted employment protections to LGBTQ state workers. On a more positive note, the Topeka Public School District has implemented new policies to promote fair treatment of transgender students.
    Going into 2016, we all have things we’d like to see happen (or not happen). This article contains just a few of the things Beacon kids want from the new year.
    Many of us struggle with acceptance at home and at school. We would like to be able to express love freely and openly in whatever form it may take, both at home and in the outside world. Safety is hugely important to us. We want to feel safe no matter where we go; no child should have to fear death while walking down the street in the clothes that make them feel most comfortable or while holding hands with the person they love.
    School sex education is notorious for not including queer identities. We want to see sex ed include discussions about queer relationships, sexual and otherwise. We want to see talks about pronoun usage and gender identity. We want to see schools stop shaming students for having sex or for having the wrong kind of sex, but we also want to see curriculums that include asexual and aromantic identities.
    One thing that absolutely needs to change is the use of the word gay to mean something negative. If you’ve ever been around a typical straight teenager, you probably have heard the phrase “that’s so gay” at some point. The notion that being gay means someone is less than―less masculine, less smart, less cool―needs to end as soon as possible because it is harming youth who do identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
    Living authentically is extremely difficult for trans youth. It’s hard enough for youth to come out and deal with the potential backlash, let alone finding items to help ease dysphoria. Trans teens who are assigned female at birth (AFAB) often use unsafe binding methods like Ace bandages or duct tape, while teens who are assigned male at birth (AMAB) often use similarly unsafe methods to tuck.
    We would like to see binders and other undergarments that help ease dysphoria readily available in department stores and other clothing shops. We would also like to see better education that teaches kids the dangers of using unsafe methods to bind or tuck.
    Many younger LGBTQ youth will be eligible to vote for the first time in the 2016 elections. We are extremely excited for this new opportunity to have a say in our federal government. In general, our group seems to have a strong lead towards Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. One thing we can all agree on is that none of us want a Republican president to take office.
    We’re hoping to make this the best year for LGBTQ equality yet! Happy New Year from us at Beacon. Keep fighting to make change happen, and we can certainly make this another great year. l

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Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.