Monday night students and faculty discussed queerphobia at a roundtable discussion titled “Queerphobia: Still a thing?” While some may question if the fear of LGBTQIA++ still exists, the panel educated the audience on how it is definitely real and present even today.
The panel consisted of Victoria Davis, Jodi Solito, Dr. Emily Keener, Cindy LaCom, Cheyenne Jackson and Meagan Gumble.
Victoria Davis began the talk by explaining that Queerphobia is the fear or hatred of the LGBT community. Davis also explained heteronormativity, the normalizing of being straight, which is seen everywhere in the media.
“[The media] may not fear gay people, but they may not see them as normal, which is just as problematic,” Davis said. Davis brought up a website, www.nohomophobes.com, which showed data on how many negative LGBT slurs are used on Twitter. These words and attacks on the LGBT community correlates with LGBT suicides and unemployment, Davis said.
Jodi Solito geared the discussion more towards straight privilege. She shared that privilege is any unearned benefit, and it is not always conscious or acknowledged.
“Those who are privileged are the last ones to recognize it,” Solito said.
One major straight privilege is that straights cannot be fired solely due to their sexual orientation. In 28 states, including Pennsylvania, it is legal to fire somebody solely because they are or are perceived to be gay or transgender.
Next, Dr. Emily Keener talked about the devastating facts and statistics of gays being murdered, especially transgender women of color.
Since 2013, nearly 30 transgender women, mostly Latino or black, have been brutally murdered. In the first two months of 2015 alone, at least seven transgender women of color were murdered in the US. Many of the murders go unsolved.
“These reports are supposed to be a wakeup call,” Keener said.
Keener praised Slippery Rocks movement, as there are now All-Gender restrooms and frequent programs like this one to inform students. However, there is always room for improvement, she said.
“There is still a lot of work to be done. The solution is to end the culture that starts the violence,” Keener said.
Cheyenne Jackson, a student at Slippery Rock, bravely told her story as someone part of the LGBT community. Jackson shared that she began hearing hate of her sexual orientation before she even knew what it was, around the age of five or six.
“I just knew that being gay was something bad,” Jackson said. She shared how her mom was very unsupportive of her, and how Queerphobia affected her life.
“Yes, [Queerphobia] is real. Queerphobia ruined my relationship with my mom,” Jackson said.
Cindy LaCom reiterated that Queerphobia is real, and how Gay Rights may take a hit these next four years. She shared how president-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which covers hormone therapy for transgenders and transgender surgeries.
Meagan Gumble highlighted organizations fighting for Gay Rights, such as National Organization for Marriage, the First Amendment Defense Act, National Center for Transgender Equality and the Human Rights Campaign.
LaCom shared additional statistics to show how present Queerphobia is. Eighty percent of queer teens in high school have been harassed, she said. These stories and statistics show the reality of Queerphobia. However, Equality Pennsylvania is working to end discrimination against the LGBT community. LaCom gave encouragement to anyone who wants to make a change. Anyone can contact their legislator or volunteer for Equality PA.
“Every person is an active agent for social change,” LaCom said.