So, for one of our last assignments for World Literature, we had to write an editorial and, as the title implies, I wrote mine on sexual assault in the LGBTQ+ community. Since they could only be up to 650 words, I couldn’t get out all I wanted to because as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have so much to say because the topic itself is something I’m passionate about. I would write more on the spot but this would turn into more of a rant. Eventually, I want to write about this topic again but not now. Now, without further ado, here is my editorial. I hope you enjoy and get just as pissed as I did.
Sexual Assault In The LGBT+ Community
Picture this: You’re a member of the LGBT+ community. You’re considered “abnormal” in this society but still, you stay loud and proud. Of course, you still have to work up the courage to make that believable.When you finally feel confident enough to come out, you get mixed reactions from the overwhelmingly positive to the discouragingly negative; you’ve heard it all. However, one response itself could change your whole life: you’ve been thrown out. Your new home is the streets.
Unfortunately, for many LGBT+ youth, this is their reality. For them, it’s not just a nightmare. It’s their life. Far too often, adolescents in the LGBT+ community are victimized at alarming rates, much more than that of their non-LGBT+ counterparts. It’s quite frankly disgusting and scary how much more of a risk those of us in the LGBT+ community face when it comes to harassment, especially sexual misconduct.
As a community, we are not safe due to social stigmas. Often, LGBT+ youth are faced with hate crimes which can become sexually aggressive. Perpetrators commonly use sexual misconduct to humiliate their victims. Additionally, LGBT+ youth are at an increased risk of homelessness due to intolerance within their families. In fact, according to a study done by Lambda Legal and the CWLA, about 20-40% of all homeless youth are in the LGBT+ community. Of those who are homeless, 58% of LGB homeless youth report being victims of sexual violence as opposed to 33% of non-LGB homeless youth.
Often times, homeless members of the LGBT+ community will be coerced into taking part in “survival sex.” This is basically prostitution. They will trade sex for basic needs such as shelter, food, clothes, money, ect. According to a survey of 206 runaways from the ages of 11 to 18, of the 80% who were sexually active, 22% of males and 7% of females engaged in sex for survival. About 44% of LGB youth report being asked for survival sex and of those, 19% actually took part in it compared to around 8% of non-LGB youth. This is likely because there are limited resources offered to the LGBT+ community because of the social stigma surrounding us.
In addition to the sexual violence, LGBT+ people don’t report as often as our non-LGBT+ counterparts. This also has to do with extremely harmful societal biases. Tyler Kingkade from the Huffington Post says, “LGBT students risk losing a supportive community, perhaps the only one in their lives, when they have to report on one of their own.” This rings true for those who have been sexually assaulted by other members of the LGBT+ community. They’ll often have a small support system and having to report someone in that system can result in no support at all. There’s also the risk of giving more negative attention towards our community as a whole. As described by students from Columbia University, there is a fear of causing additional issues for the LGBT community as they already struggle with acceptance.
Too often, the LGBT community is ridiculed and it’s gotten to the point where we can’t be taken seriously, especially when it comes to issues like this due to harmful stereotypes of “oversensitivity”. People will just ignore the fact that LGBT+ youth, on average, face about 7.4 more sexually inappropriate acts of violence. According to a recent study, 42% of runaways are LGBT and have left home to escape abuse.
There needs to be action taken to prevent this such as LGBT exclusive resources where survivors feel safe. There also should be a rule being enforced in regular resources against discrimination or a federal law to protect the LGBT+ community against injustices like this.
The fight for equality is far from over and we as a society are responsible for getting rid of harmful stereotypes and showing compassion. Everyone deserves a voice, especially the LGBT+ community.