Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 1, 2014

It’s Thanksgiving month, Poppets, and if you celebrate the official holiday or not, being aware of the reasons to be thankful is always a good thing. As is being aware in general. So without further ado…

1. Be thankful for - marriage equality. States are falling like dominoes, Poppets. So many rights are conferred upon a couple once they are officially married. Plus, for people who want to be married, there is something about that piece of paper that makes it different. The tangible and the intangible. Marriage equality is a good thing.
Be aware ofthe laws that still don’t guarantee our safety, employment, or housing rights. Marriage equality is great, but only matters so much if you can be fired or evicted for being married to someone of your same gender.

2. Be thankful forLGB people serving openly in the military. The fall of DADT was a few years ago now, but trust and believe, Poppets, it’s still a big deal.
Be aware ofThe absence of the “T” in the above alphabet. Transgendered military personnel still have to wait until after their military service has been completed before they can even talk about who they truly are, let alone begin any kind of transition. And for men and women who have already transitioned? Can’t even enlist.

3. Be thankful for - The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t even know this act existed, Poppets. It sets guidelines for providing shelter and care for our homeless youth. It adds protections specifically covering our homeless, runaway, and “thrown away” (the industry phrase for youth whose parents have kicked them out) youths. Passed in 2008, it’s heartbreaking that we need to have the act at all, but since we do need it, let’s be grateful for it.
Be aware ofThe exclusion of LGBTQ teens from the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. There are no provisions for LGBTQ youth in the act itself. Yes, it would be nice to think that a general law protecting our youth would cover our LGBTQ children, too, but we all know that’s not necessarily the case. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless:
  •     20% of homeless youth are LGBT. In comparison, the general youth population is only 10% LGBT.
  •     While homeless youth typically experience severe family conflict as the primary reason for their homelessness, LGBT youth are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse before the age of 12.
  •     LGBT youth, once homeless, are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, and unsafe sexual practices. 58.7% of LGBT homeless youth have been sexually victimized compared to 33.4% of heterosexual homeless youth
  •     LGBT youth are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth
  •     LGBT homeless youth commit suicide at higher rates (62%) than heterosexual homeless youth (29%) 

(National Coalition for the Homeless, June 2009
Given those statistics, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act needs to be amended to protect the LGBTQ youth, explicitly and without question.

    4. Be thankful for - International Transgendered Day of Remembrance. Every November 20th, we remember our transgendered brothers and sisters who have died because of the hatred and violence. There are no scheduled events in the Bellingham area yet, but don’t let that stop you from taking a moment – or organizing one.
Be aware ofInternational Transgendered Day of Remembrance. The fact that we even need this day is painful. The fact that more and more names get added every year is painful.

5. Be thankful forthe people who have come before us. It is safer to be a member of the LGBTQ community than ever before. We have more rights, more visibility, more acceptance, and more protections than any generation that has come before us. And we have it because of the generations that came before us.
Be aware ofthe sacrifices they made. It’s easy to look around and take for granted what we have. It’s easy to think it all came easily. Don’t be that person.

    6. Be thankful forthe strength to continue the fight. You have it. I have it. We have the strength to get what needs to be changed changed. We have voices that are being heard. We have powerful allies and influential comrades. Every day, we make strides, because we just don’t quit.
Be aware ofthe fact that being out is a privilege. Not everyone lives in a community where it is safe to be out. Not everyone works in an industry where it is safe to be out. Those of us who can be must not add our hate to the hate they are already facing. Instead, we must fight for them, until none of us have to fight at all.

There you have it, Poppets. Six reasons to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it. Happy Autumn if you don’t.

Until next month, Poppets, take care of you – and each other.

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