MHS Should Educate Students About the LGBTQ+ Community
October 11th is National Coming Out Day. At MHS, the walls can be seen adorned with rainbow-colored posters. People line up at lunch to get a sticker, avidly proclaiming themselves as an ally, gay, bisexual, or other identities, and students paint their hands the colors of the gay pride flag and clamber around to mark a giant poster with their rainbow handprints, a way of showing solidarity.
For the LGBTQ+ community, coming out can be a way to let others know something personal about themselves, and can be a form of activism that hopes to promote visibility and develop a more accepting society. In fact, National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 as a way to celebrate coming out, and to disabuse false and harmful stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community. However, while the effort the school put into celebrating National Coming Out Day is admirable, it is of my opinion that we could do more in helping to create acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community.
Over the past decade, the movement has had hard-fought victories, including the legalization of gay marriage in all fifty states. However, it has endured setbacks, as well, such as the transgender bathroom regulations and other oppressive legislation. The community still faces discrimination, and painting the school the colors of the gay pride flag, while ostensibly a good way to garner acceptance, is simply not enough.
MHS appears to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the LGBTQ+ community represents. While the rainbow has indeed become a symbol for not only gay pride but the LGBTQ+ movement as a whole, there is more to the LGBTQ+ community than the colorful flag. The movement represents a struggle for acceptance spanning over decades, across the world, and many different orientations and identities, some of which are underrepresented or forgotten almost entirely in the school’s superficial celebration of National Coming Out Day. This event is only one day in the school year, and seems to serve as a way for the school to appear tolerant rather than because they genuinely support the community. This can be seen in how, despite the fairly liberal views of many people in the school, LGBTQ+ students do not have a club or safe spaces specific to their issues.
A better way to foster a more tolerant environment would be to create these safe spaces and to teach about LGBTQ+ history, and the different sexual orientations and gender identities in our school’s sex ed unit. This change in the school could allow for students in the community to feel welcome at MHS year-round, instead of only on one day. While celebrating National Coming Out Day at school may be a step in the right direction, educating students on LGBTQ+ issues could be a better way to normalize the community here at MHS and help students feel safer.