Opinion of: MIKAYLA STAHL
If you walked into a Target in June, you were likely met with a barrage of rainbow and pride apparel, flags, and accessories in celebration of Pride month. Wearing a rainbow t-shirt to show you support the LGBTQ community is a start, but alone will not end the discrimination and injustice that occurs.
Members of the LGBTQ community across our country face extreme persecution and even physical harm. Only 19 states have laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in issues of employment, housing, and public accommodations. In states without these protections, it is common for LGBTQ people’s rights to healthcare, adoption services, foster care, or just being a patron of a local business are challenged. In 2021, there have already been over 30 transgender people fatally shot or killed. Rainbows and messages of kindness alone are not enough to improve the lives of the LGBTQ community.
To be an ally, one must do the work of continuously educating oneself on the issues facing the LGBTQ community. There are countless sources, organizations, books, and documentaries, such as “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” readily available to get you started. Then look locally and nationally to find organizations such as the National LGBTQ Task Force or OutCT, based in New London, already making an impact.
Allyship may take many forms. Perhaps you will take an activist role and join a rally, or follow legislation and write to your representatives, or maybe your allyship will be a financial donation to a vetted LGBTQ organization. Sometimes an ally just needs to have the courage to share what they have learned with a family member or friend who just doesn’t get it yet.
Effective allies listen and learn from LGBTQ voices and use that knowledge to be role models for others. Students at ELHS have an opportunity to be great allies by joining the GSA Club, being a role model, or correcting misinformation. Discrimination doesn’t end with silence. Speak up. Stand up.