Homophobia is defined as dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people. People being homophobic is causing children across the world to go through pain every day because of their sexuality. Most of the pain and suffering is caused by bullying in schools. Making children feel welcome in schools should be a priority, not a choice. Students can not feel welcome if they do not feel safe; No Promo Homo Laws make it where students cannot be protected. No Promo Homo laws are laws that say in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state. No Promo Homo Laws should not exist because they are bad for LGBTQ+ youth; these laws lead to discrimination, abuse, and trauma.
Over a fifteen years span, lawmakers and school administrators have started to recognize that LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and other non-gender conforming) youth are a vulnerable population in schools. As a result, many administrators have implemented policies designed to ensure all students feel safe and welcome at school, but not in six of the states (‘Like Walking Through A Hailstorm’). These states are Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. Unfair discrimination against students and improper sexual education are among the side effects of No-Promo Homo Laws ise states. Bea Giauque, a bisexual highschool student, recalls, “When I went into tenth-grade health, with the knowledge I was Bisexual, the entire thing was, ‘Oh hey, men and women go together, girls and boys are going to have sex. That is how it is’”. This experience speaks to the inadequate information that LGBTQ+ students receive in health class, where they are denied access to safe non-heterosexual sexual practices.
As a result of lack of legal protection, LGBTQ+ youth experience verbal harassment 85% of their time in schools (LGBT Bullying and Discrimination in Schools). For example, high school is harder for LGBTQ+ youth than other teens. Walking through the hallway of the high school and getting called things like ‘Lesbian, Gay Boy, Carpet Muncher, Fag, Queer, or he-she’ is something no child should have to go through. These children just want to be who they are, but they feel they can not because of the names they are called and the way they are treated. No Promo Homo Laws prevent schools from educating other students about the LGBTQ+ community, which makes the children who are not a part of this community feel it is wrong and immoral not to be heterosexual. Worse yet, in some of the states like Alabama and Arizona, schools must teach children that homosexuality is not a lifestyle accepted in the general public, which leads to more dangerous forms of harassment against LGBTQ+ students (No Promo Homo Laws).
Physical harassment is another way children of the LGBTQ+ community are being targeted. No student should be scared to go to school because walking into school for them means getting pushed into their locker or being followed home and beat up. On this, Bonnie Owens, a high school teacher, says, “Many teachers, because the law is vague understand it as a gag rule, meaning they can not talk about homosexuality at all. What that means is that a lot of teachers are not actually fulfilling their responsibility to keep children safe because they do not think they can intervene in anti-gay behavior”. However, teachers can intervene; the laws were made to only be applied in health class. Unfortunately, homophobic people took the law to apply throughout all school settings. In Oklahoma, the law states, “AIDS prevention education shall specifically teach students that engaging in homosexual activity, promiscuous sexual activity, intravenous drug or contact with contaminated blood products is now known to be primarily responsible for contact with AIDS virus” (70 Oklahoma 70-11-103.3). This law was made when people thought homosexuality causes AIDS, but people now know it does not.
Prejudice, rejection, and stigma of LGBTQ+ lifestyles often leads to trauma. Knowing that society rejects people for who people are can be a traumatic experience. At some point in time, homosexuality was even considered a mental illness. However, people now know that is not the case. The classification of homosexuality as a mental illness was the result of psychological understandings of sexuality that relied on values and beliefs about the world that are specific to a culture, Western Culture. It is now well known that sexuality for other groups, Native Americans, for instance, did not rely on male and female pairings. In many Native American societies, sexuality was fluid; people could identify with genders that were not restricted to male and female. For example, Native American people could identify as ‘Two Spirit’, if they felt that the label best applied to them. As a result, people who now identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community experience physical and mental trauma when American society tries to impose on them its views about sexuality, which are only views and understandings that are specific to this culture and not universal.
Heterosexual society feels fear, or homophobia, towards LGBTQ+ lifestyles. These concerns revolve around changes to the values and customs that have defined heterosexuals’ life experience and American society. However, this is a mistaken notion; their fear has no grounding. No one will force heterosexuals to partake in sexual activity or activities associated with LGBTQ+ lifestyles. Should heterosexual people freely choose to participate in these activities, it would not be because they have been coerced, manipulated, or pressured into doing so. Instead, if heterosexuals engage in LGBTQ+ sexual practices, it would be because these attract them; that is, heterosexuals feel curious about non-heterosexual lifestyles and sexualities.
People support No Promo Homo Laws because of their religion. Most religions say something about being gay is wrong, so they think if they talk about being gay in schools it will go against their religious views or their beliefs. On that note, we are not allowed to talk about religion in schools in a way that promotes a specific religion, so if certain religions say that homosexuality is wrong, religious beliefs should not affect the lives of those who do not believe in those religions. If a person thinks homosexuality is wrong based on religious beliefs, that should not affect someone in a public setting, like high school, where religion should not have any influence.
The people of the LGBTQ+ community do not want to be feared or shamed for the way they live, they are just looking to be accepted. No Promo Homo laws are making it hard for them to feel accepted. These laws put making children feel safe at school up for discussion, and that should not be the case. The laws are outdated and need to be repealed to fit the times. In conclusion, the laws should be repealed so that no one will suffer discrimination, abuse, and trauma in school.