“Fag,” “Gay,” “Homos,” and “Gays Go to Hell” — these are the words that adorned the UC Davis Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center in February. Despite what some believe, the UC system is not a post-homophobic institution. In the wake of such horrendous acts as the graffiti on the UCD LGBT center, the students and various members of the UC system should reflect upon the importance of tolerance and understanding of all beliefs and lifestyles, be role models to youth, and take an active role in change.
Homophobia is an issue that has recently plagued all forms of education, from the humble beginnings of high school to the high tiers of college.
In March of this year, Mississippi high schooler Constance McMillian was not allowed to attend her prom with her girlfriend due to her desire to don a tuxedo. In an effort to mask McMillian’s sexual preference, the school administration suggested that she and her girlfriend take male dates.
With the creation of Facebook, the ability of people to show support for ideals and take sides on various debatable issues has just become a mouse-click away. For example, groups such as “Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to the Prom” have over 429,000 “fans.” These combat the dark side of Facebook groups, like “Constance quit yer cryin,” which has only 2,790 fans. Although positive in preventing cyberbullying, Facebook group activism is passive activism, and has even coined the term “slacktivism.” Though the internet has allowed for the ability to easily support ideals one believes in, it should not mean that our generation should stop actively participating in change.
In 2007, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) released a study that nearly nine out of 10 LGBT students, of both middle and high school, experienced harassment in the previous year.
We, as students of a higher education system, need to be role models and show that tolerance and understanding can exist in a world too often subjugated to hate crimes and overall acts of violence.
More specifically, students should participate in an the Day of Silence event, which protests the silence faced daily by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies.
This event will begin at the Bay Tree Bookstore and last until Friday night, which will bring about the Night of Noise at the Cowell courtyard that allows those who have been silenced to speak out and tell their stories.
There is a need for change in our educational system to protect those who are LGBT, because currently schools cannot discriminate against students based upon race, color, national origin, religion, sex or disability, but not sexual orientation. The Student Nondiscrimination Act, which is currently being promoted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) would help change this. The HRC’s and ACLU’s Web sites are currently organized so those who support the act can easily fill out a pre-made letter that can be sent to members of congress.
Our generation cannot be bogged down by technological advancements, and needs to continue to participate actively in social and civil changes in our nation. To combat the increase in active homophobia we need to actively go out and speak against it, and promote discourse and equality amongst all people despite beliefs, backgrounds, or sexual preferences.