It’s 2017. The fact that equality is still debated and the fact that it’s still an issue is unfortunate, to say the least. The secretary of education seemed to imply in May that she would leave the issue of discrimination up to the decision of the states. She didn’t improve much on her response when the issue was brought up again in June.
Current federal laws protect students from discrimination of various types, though they’re slightly murky when it comes to LGBT protections. However, based on the other protections it provides, it’s a no-brainer that LGBT students should be included. The courts haven’t made it official, but the fact that LGBT marriage is legal across the country and, well, the fact that your sexual orientation/gender identity isn’t something you choose, should be enough.
In the May hearing, a school in Indiana was brought up because they receive state voucher money yet deny admission for students “practicing alternate gender identity” or for any students that come from a family where there’s “homosexual or bisexual activity.” Not only could the child be punished for who they are, they could be punished because of their parents as well.
The Harm Of Discrimination
LGBT youth are already at high-risk for compromised mental health without having to deal with discrimination from their school. They have to face bullying, dealing with the pressure of coming out and the fact that they could be facing a family that doesn’t approve. It’s not an easy process and it isn’t an easy life to lead. Transgender students struggle even more, with the notion that they aren’t in the body they’re supposed to be in.
Banning a student from a school because of who they are attracted to is repulsive. As is banning students because of their gender identity not lining up with the parts they had. These are not things that people choose and they aren’t things that people can control. They’re people just like everyone else. And these children have just as much right to learn as anyone else.
Consequences Should Be Enforced
In 1970, the IRS proclaimed they wouldn’t offer tax-exempt status to any educational institution that participated in racial discrimination. When Bob Jones University tried to challenge this, the US Supreme Court rejected and said: “racial discrimination in education is contrary to public policy.” The same thing should be said now for LGBT discrimination.
Both federal and state governments offer all sorts of vouchers, grants and other funding to institutions of education. This funding should not extend to schools that participate in discrimination. If these institutions want federal money, they shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against any group of people.
America is supposed to be a land of freedoms, though it doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to discrimination. However, we should be learning from our past and growing instead of backtracking to times when you were allowed to refuse a student because of their skin color. Students can’t change their sexuality, who they truly are, any more than they can change the color of their skin.
And just because discrimination is based on religion, doesn’t mean it’s okay. Freedom of religion means you have the right to practice whatever religion you choose. It doesn’t mean that you can use that religion as an excuse to discriminate against people and impose those beliefs on others.
Opposition to discrimination isn’t based on violating religious liberties or rights. It’s about making sure that American citizens are free from discrimination and able to live their lives without being persecuted because of who they are.
This is about being decent human beings and respecting that others may not be the same as you are. Schools shouldn’t be financially rewarded for refusing perfectly qualified applicants due to baseless ignorance.