With the current laws being enacted in Florida and Texas as well as other conservative states to stop the LBGTQ+ community from being able to live their lives, it got me thinking about how I used to believe some of the same things until I started really listening to these people. I have many friends in this community now and I am heartbroken over how they are treated.
Many LBGTQ+ children are kicked out of the house when they come out to their parents. Some are subjected to horrible “conversion therapy” to try to “convince” them that they are not gay or transgender. These children are very likely to be abused and murdered by their family or people in the community who don’t want to understand that they are people too.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people are over-represented in foster care, where they are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, neglect and the risk of harm. A 2019 study found 30.4 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and 5 percent as transgender, compared to 11.2 percent and 1.17 percent of youth not in foster care.”https://www.childrensrights.org/lgbtq-2/
In Texas, a law was recently passed making it “child abuse” for parents to give their transgendered children care that would allow them to have the body that their brain is telling them they are. As of now, a judge has partially blocked the law. I believe that the exact opposite is true. It is abusive NOT to allow these children to have the gender affirming medical care they require. They are at a high risk of suicide for not being allowed to have transitional gender affirming medical care and psychotherapy.
People like to shrug off the suicide issue of transgender children, but according to Forbes from 2021, “52% of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020. More than half thought it would be better to be dead, rather than trying to live with rejection, isolation, loneliness, bullying and being targeted by politicians and activists pushing anti-trans legislation.”https://www.forbes.com/sites/dawnstaceyennis/2021/05/19/terrible-time-for-trans-youth-new-survey-spotlights-suicide-spike—and-hope/?sh=712121d2716e
These children have to deal with so much discrimination from conservative policymakers. They are banned from using the correct bathrooms with which they identify. What do we think happens when a trans girl is forced to use the boys’ bathroom and vice versa? They look like the gender with which they identify.
And banning them from playing on the team of the gender with which they identify because people think they have an advantage over the other team is wrong. We might as well ban anyone “different” from playing sports because I can guarantee that transgender children don’t have any advantage over their peers. Everyone is talented in different ways!
Finally, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida enacted by Governor DeSantis is horrible! As an early childhood professional, sex and gender identity isn’t a main topic in the curriculum unless we have a child with gay parents or a child who is struggling with this issue. These children deserve support and compassion. Teachers need to teach children to accept these differences. The LBGTQ+ community is in no way trying to get children to be something that they’re not. They are just trying to get acceptance and support to stop the horrible discrimination they face daily. I believe in having developmentally appropriate discussions and books that include the LBGTQ+ community in the classroom.
I am so grateful that President Biden is taking action to try to help protect everyone in the LBGTQ+ community by taking executive action to stop the use of conversion therapy and help keep the rights and lives of this group as safe as possible. The amount of bigotry from the religious, right wing is absolutely disgusting! And it’s only getting worse!
There’s another group of children and adults who live with a higher than average risk of being abused: The disabled.
“Child abuse and neglect is reported in 3% to 10% of the population with disabilities. The rate of child abuse and neglect is at least 3 times higher in children with disabilities than in the typically developing population.”https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/147/5/e2021050920/180813/Maltreatment-of-Children-With-Disabilities
Children with disabilities have higher needs and require more care. They often have unique behavioral issues that typical children don’t. For some children with disabilities, these behaviors may last well into adulthood because their brains aren’t able to mature like typical people. They are so reliant on others for care and help that they are prime candidates for all types of abuse.
As someone with a severe disability, I can attest to the abuse. I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my dad because I couldn’t control my muscles. I was emotionally and verbally abused by other family members and people at school. Just because life with a child who is disabled can be very stressful and frustrating at times doesn’t excuse abuse.
Like LBGTQ+ children, there’s a stigma that comes along with being disabled. We live in an ableist world. For a long time, people with disabilities, starting in young childhood, were locked up in institutions and forgotten. These institutions were absolutely horrible and many children died from abuse and inadequate care. There even used to be laws that prohibited people with disabilities from being in society. Similarly with the LBGTQ+ community, the disabled have a higher risk of being murdered.
Here’s an excellent article about the history of ableism.
As the article above points out, many religious groups believe that disabilities are due to “sin,” thus, causing people to treat them badly and abuse them. Let me be clear: No disability is due to sin!
Another thing that the article on ableism points out is that the medical community often treats the disability as a “problem.” But people with disabilities have absolutely nothing “wrong” with them. They are just different and deserve quality medical care, and yet, they often don’t receive it. The cost of medical care is even higher than that of typical people and people with disabilities also usually require adaptive equipment and therapy to be able to live the best life they can!
Unfortunately the Americans with Disabilities Act hasn’t helped all that much because most public places only do the minimum requirements. Many employers don’t want to have the responsibility of helping people with disabilities work in their work places. And people with disabilities don’t get “free money.” If they are on SSI, they can only have $2,000 if they are single and $3,000 if married. We’re trying to get this changed.
Being told by parents, teachers, employers, and society in general that “You’re worthless, a burden, a problem, a liability, and your life doesn’t matter” leads to isolation, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Covid has really bought out just how ableist the world is, especially the United States. Many people feel that their lives are more important than others who are still vulnerable to serious consequences of getting Covid. It’s all-too-often just laughed at while believing that it is perfectly fine for people who are high risk to remain locked up for the rest of their lives. This is going back to the days when children and adults were forced to remain locked up and out of society. This is abuse!
There is no excuse for abuse of any child or adult, especially if they are different. We are all equal and worthy no matter our race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and/or disability. We need to stop going backwards and start moving forward to become a kinder, more accepting world. No child should be hurt. It is also abuse and ableist to expect any child to be someone that he/she isn’t or to expect children to be able to do things that they are not yet able to do!