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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The LGBT community should not have to ask for Respect

On June 9, 2015 Caitlyn Jenner officially transitioned to being a woman from her previous identity, Bruce Jenner.

This was a significant event for the LGBT community because it provided a substantial amount of recognition for LGBT people from the general public.

And when speaking at a Human Rights Campaign press conference on February 14, 2014, Ellen Page said, “I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” while coming out as a lesbian, according to CNN.

Between tweets of disapproval from other celebrities towards Page, and hashtags floating around with a title of “pray for Bruce,” it’s evident that America still has a ways to go until it reaches the point of total equality for members of the LGBT community.

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It’s a day to celebrate when a celebrity comes out as LGBT, but many citizens who are part of the LGBT community carry the same feeling of fright as Page said she did during the press conference, as stated by CNN.

People who oppose marriage equality or claim that same-sex relationships are a sin do not understand the grief their words can cause individuals, or to what extent that grief can compel someone to do. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a study of people in grades 7 to 12 found that lesbian, gay and bisexual minors were twice as likely to attempt suicide in contrast to their heterosexual peers.

For example, Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender female, committed suicide on Dec. 28, 2014 because her parents forced her to attend conversion therapy, which is therapy typically used to attempt to convert LGBT members into heterosexuals or their binary gender.

Following this tragic incident was a petition created on the White House website called “Leelah’s Law,” which had originally started on change.org. This petition was made to ban conversion therapy in the United States.

In April, the petition had 120,915 signatures, which surpassed the original required amount of 120,000 signatures, according to a tweet made by the White House.

On April 8, President Barack Obama voiced his approval for the activation of Leelah’s Law, according to the Washington Post.

Since then, conversion therapy has been banned as a whole. And even though there have been many attempts to ban discrimination towards the LGBT community, oppression still breaks through the barrier.

Yes, the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case, which guaranteed gay couples’ right to get married, was decided on June 26. Even so, LGBT members are still subject to hatred and discrimination.

As an American, it disappoints me that our country isn’t living by the famous quote “all men are created equal,” initially published  in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. And as an LGBT member myself, it saddens me to know that so many lives have been taken by the hate that oppression creates.

According to the Pew Research Center, 22 countries out of all the countries in the world approve of marriage equality, yet American citizens still haven’t figured out what being totally equal truly means.

This “land of the free and home of the brave” is quickly turning into the land of the oppressed and the home of the frightened.

According to the Center for American Progress, gay men earn 10 to 32 percent less than heterosexuals. It’s startling to see such a tremendous difference, and this inadequate wage gap needs to be put to an end.

Not to mention transgender people typically earn about $10,000 less than heterosexual people a year, according to the same source.

So, it’s great that there’s a major amount of recognition for Caitlyn Jenner and other LGBT celebrities like Laverne Cox, Ellen Degeneres and Neil Patrick Harris, but it’s time to start focusing on the people who we pass by on the streets every day.

It’s time for recognition of the oppressed and it’s time for equality to prevail.

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