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Can LGBT+ individuals exercise their rights?

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Recently, a transgender student at Osseo Senior High School in Minnesota recorded a video of the principal and other staff entering the bathroom she was using and forcing her out. Not only was this student’s privacy violated, but the video she took shows how to some, the safety of trans students doesn’t matter.

Safety, though, is a huge priority for LGBT+ students in many aspects. Some are afraid that they may be rejected by their family or those around them. In some situations, people have been attacked or killed by those intolerant of their identities.

In high school, a pivotal time for many, feeling safe and accepted is something all want, but for LGBT+ students, many still don’t have this.

Because of this, we, The Journal, believe members of the LGBT+ community cannot fully utilize their rights and freedoms in America today and be accepted. Not only is this lack of freedom being seen in schools, but it is affecting the mental health of many.

Mental health affects millions of people in the US, especially those in the LGBT+ community. According to Mental Health America, LGBT+ people are three times more likely to experience a mental health condition, compared to those who identify as straight.

The American Academy of Pediatrics surveyed over 120,000 youth during the period of June 2012 and May 2015 to compare levels of attempted suicide between sexual orientation groups.

Half of all transgender men surveyed reported attempting suicide, followed by non-binary youth reporting 42 percent. Thirty percent of all transgender women surveyed said they’d attempted suicide before. We, The Journal, believe that no one should feel so ashamed of their identity to the point that they feel like they should take their own life.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention release a national survey of high school students. Last year in 2017, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that around 1.3 million, or 8 percent of all high school students identify as LGBT+.

High school is a confusing, stressful and complicated time for everyone, no matter their gender identity or sexuality. Having such a large population of students feel vulnerable and unsafe in schools and their communities is something we have to address as a society. We believe that the LGBT+ community is a valuable part of our world’s population and it’s slowly becoming acceptable to be yourself without fear or repercussions, at least in the U.S.

American society has made huge strides towards LGBT+ equality and acceptance but there’s still work to be done. The best thing we can do as a society and as a community is to educate others on LGBT+ topics and how to be understanding if someone you know is struggling with discrimination or identity issues.

If you’re questioning your identity, don’t feel as though you have to come out, especially if it could mean rejection or harm by those who disagree. If you’re someone who’s confused what the fuss is about with LGBT+ people coming out more and more over recent years, seek to educate yourself and try to understand where they’re coming from. If you just don’t agree with it, then that’s your call.

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