“Protect Children and Families!” We’ve heard these words before. Over and over again as LGBTQ issues have been used as political wedges to the harm of LGBTQ lives. Whether it was anti-LGBTQ propaganda films in the 1960s, the Brigg’s Initiative attacking our LGBTQ teachers in 1978, 2008’s Prop 8 message of “protect children and families,” or the human rights violations like subjecting children to so-called “conversion therapy” it has been our children, our families who have been under threat.
A recent Gallup poll shows that 7.1% of Americans identify as LGBTQ, a number that has doubled in the last decade. Approximately 21% or 1 in 5 Gen Zers identify as LGBTQ. These are wonderful signs that our collective generations-long work to create safer spaces for our community is working. Younger and younger folks are feeling safer coming out, especially in larger cities and coastal communities, but it is far from over.
Over the last several years our community has seen a dramatic rise in violent hate crimes and legislative attacks. Book burning in Tennessee, a “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, and a bill criminalizing parents and health care providers of trans youth in Texas are just a few examples of the growing number of fronts where we are fighting to protect our children and families. A recent poll from the Trevor Project shows us that 85% of trans and nonbinary youth and 66% of all LGBTQ youth have stated public discourse around anti-LGBTQ legislation has negatively impacted their mental health.
While not yet in the media out of concern for people’s safety, just a couple of weeks ago an anti-LGBTQ group published information online regarding a transgender student’s Gender Support Plan sent out by an Assistant Principal. This one action jeopardized the life and safety of the student who was not yet out to their family, and that of the openly LGBTQ administrator, their partner and child.
This week at the State of the Union, President Biden called for the passage of the Equality Act and then stated, “As I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I will always have your back as your President, so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.”
We know these literal attacks on children and families from anti-LGBTQ extremists are far too common. We protect our children and families by creating safe environments for them to learn and thrive, which is why San Diego Pride and our coalition partners have developed an LGBTQ+ Youth Standards of Care document for any parent, teacher, student, or administrator to use. Additionally, on our youth page, you can find links to LGBTQ youth-serving resources around the region as well as information about our youth-led programs. We hope you will continue to connect LGBTQ youth in our region to supportive arts and culture programming, advocacy opportunities, and direct services. By healing, uplifting, and protecting our next generation, we will ensure our movement will always pursue Justice with Joy!
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made them a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.