Pride Month is a month in which LGBTQ people all across the world can be open and happily express themselves as their true identity to the world around them. Pride Month is a special time where LGBTQ individuals can express with gratitude how truly proud they are of their identity and their community.
Although folks may have this opportunity often and are capable of maintaining an openness about themselves, Pride Month exists to combat inequalities our community experiences, and to celebrate not only our differences but our similarities.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of celebrating Pride Month. To some, June is simply the month of June. They are not allowed to sport brightly colored rainbows or kiss their partner while on dates or protesting for their rights as individuals. Some environments are unsafe for such expeditions and they must endeavor to create their own space or to find a space in which they can face this dangerous reality and finally be free to be openly and pridefully themselves.
Sometimes, folks in our community are not even able to express themselves at home. In unaccepting homes, individuals who are LGBTQ cannot hang a rainbow flag by their window or buy a ‘gay agenda’ shirt from Spencer’s. In this situation, the person must put on a mask and hide their true identity from the world. They are forced into a life of stealth.
Remaining in hiding is very emotionally hazardous and can deteriorate the ability or desire to live. For some students, this is something that they must face in schools. Whether it is elementary school or college, students of all genders and orientations are forced to conceal their identities from their peers in an effort to avoid being bullied, outed, or discriminated against by both students and school officials. For favored students, school is a place in which they are supported by teachers who hang Safe Zone signs in windows and walls, and are willing to teach about the Gay Rights movement and about the AIDS epidemic.
Unfortunate students are forced to deal with teachers, counselors, and psychologists who work at the school who out and expose them to other teachers, officials, and possibly students. Not only is this legitimately illegal, but it crushes the student’s desire to be at school and is deteriorating their mental health. The students who receive or overhear information that a student is queer will continue to bully and harass the student. This is why LGBTQ youth have higher rates of suicide, bullying, self-harm, and often have little to no desire to go to school.
June, the final month of school for many students, is a time where LGBTQ students are at the center of attention and are free to express who they truly are. Not only is it a time to remember hardship, but it is a time to rejoice! Students both deserve and demand respect. With the help of the law and supportive schools, that is exactly what they will receive.