Pride is a Protest, Not a Parade: How Education Can Help Fight Hate Against the LGBTQ+ Community
Every June, the LGBTQ+ community and allies come together to celebrate love and friendship, to show how far the equality movement has come, and how much more work there is to do.
Pride feels more of the latter this year than in previous years. Progress is never linear with hate crimes and discrimination against the community rising. Many major cities worldwide will most likely host pride events in the form of a parade. So whilst Pride marches are fun, colourful, and celebratory in essence, these parades represent an ongoing movement for equality and human rights. They are essentially still a protest, just as they were when they started over 50 years ago.
Violence, Hate, and Discrimination is Still a Major Issue Across Europe and U.K.
Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is on the rise across Europe, according to a report by ILGA-Europe. This annual publication documents legal, political, and social developments in 54 countries and four European institutions over the past calendar year.
The 2022 annual publication reports a severe rise in 2021 of anti-LGBTI rhetoric from politicians and other leaders, which has fueled a wave of violence with anti-LGBTI hate crimes reported in every country this year. The increase in violence and hatred has not only been observed in countries with a history of exclusionary laws but also in France and Germany which saw a 39% increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in 2021.
In the U.K., reports of homophobic hate crimes have risen by 210% over the last six years, while over the same timeframe transphobic hate crime reports rose by 332% according to figures obtained by VICE World News.
Whilst in Ireland, rainbow flags have been burnt, and LGBTQ+ hubs have been vandalised in many towns and cities across the country. In April, a leading trans activist was notified by the authorities of a threat to their life. In September, a non-binary person was physically and verbally assaulted, and more recently, two gay men were murdered in addition to a wave of violent homophobic and transphobic hate attacks on the streets.
And we still don’t know the full extent of these crimes as most are not reported to the authorities. The EU LGBT survey by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency shows that respondents rarely report discrimination or violence, mainly because they believe nothing would happen or change.
Unfortunately, those most impacted by this resurgence of hate and discrimination are the youth of today. In the same EU LGBT survey, more than eight in 10 of all respondents in each LGBT sub-group had witnessed negative comments or conduct during their time in school. The Just Like Us Growing up LGBTQ+ report on bullying, schools, and mental health found that LGBTQ+ school pupils in the U.K. are twice as likely to have been bullied, and 91% have heard negative language about being LGBTQ+ in the past year.
Moving Forward and How Education Plays a Critical Role
To understand more about how we can tackle the challenges and issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, we spoke with Aifric Ní Chríodáin, executive director at ShoutOut. This small but mighty nonprofit is committed to improving life for LGBTQ+ people by sharing personal stories and educating school students, parents and guardians, teachers, youth workers, and workplaces on LGBTQ+ issues.
Advice for Parents and Guardians
For some parents and guardians, it may seem daunting or scary to have an LGBTQ+ child or relative, but the first thing they should know is that it is one of the most inclusive, joyous, and accepting communities to be part of. Encourage positive dialogue and create space to have open communication — let them know they are loved and always will be for who they are, regardless. Advocate for your child, speak with their teachers and ensure their school has an inclusive and diverse curriculum and lesson plans. Or why not book an in-person or online workshop for your school, organisation, local parent or youth community group?
“To see my five-year-old son, Nico, twirl around in his dresses with pride and confidence fills me with joy. As he started kindergarten this year, talking about him very openly with teachers, parents, and kids has really taken out all the fear and ignorance right from the start. It took one kindergartener to spark a dialogue that now the whole school rallied around, and for Nico and his classmates, they are growing up with this as their normal. I hope that we can empower ourselves and our communities so that kids everywhere can wear wings, their tutus, and their truth.” – Mia Prathima Rodrigues, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Salesforce.org
Nico’s parent, Mia, also advises ensuring the schools have books that allow the class to understand what it means to have someone or people in their environment who might be perceived as different to the majority, but that being different is not a bad thing — it’s quite the opposite. Even consider donating some books to the school to help get them started!
Want to support ShoutOut’s work making schools more inclusive?
For more on this topic, check out these resources: learn about how to be an LGBTQ+ Ally, read about LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Making a Difference, and take the Cultivate Equality at Work trail on Trailhead.
About the Author
Senior Manager, Nonprofit Campaigns at Salesforce.org
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