As 2012 comes to a close, there is a lot to be thankful for in the LGBT world, ranging from the expansion of same-sex marriage to having a record number of LGBT characters on TV. In 2013, overturning DOMA and Prop 8, passing employment non-discrimination legislation and blocking Uganda's proposed "Kill the Gays" bill top many LGBT people's wish lists. But there are plenty of other important issues that receive less attention; here's my out-of-the-spotlight queer wish list for the New Year:
1) LGBT-Inclusive School Curricula
This is a classic item on the so-called "gay agenda," but it appears that the anti-gay crowd hasn't had too much to worry about in past years (outside of California, anyway). Many schools still avoid talking about LGBT issues, especially with younger kids. However, if kids are exposed to storybooks with gay parents, or learn that people like Matthew Shepard were killed for being gay, they may become more accepting of LGBT people and less likely to engage in anti-gay bullying.
2) Comprehensive Sex Ed
Speaking of schools, this item is worthy of its own shout-out. It'd be nice if more sex ed programs acknowledged that it's normal and healthy to be lesbian, gay or bisexual, and included information on how LGB people can prevent STIs such as HIV. On the flip side, programs that focus on abstinence to prevent teen pregnancies are of little use to lesbian and gay teenagers.
3) The Demise of Other "Kill the Gays" Laws
Uganda has garnered a lot of attention because they might pass the so-called Kill the Gays Bill, but dozens of other countries, ranging from Sudan to the United Arab Emirates, already kill or imprison gay people. Perhaps because there's no imminent chance of the laws changing, they haven't received as much outrage, but they ought to.
4) An Out Pro-Athlete
To date, there has still not been a player in one of the big four sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB) to come out during his career. A prominent gay pro-athlete would confront the stereotype that gay men can't be athletic and could serve as a role model to queer youth who face discrimination in sports. Plus, people set aside religious bigotry, racism, and other prejudices to root for athletes on their team; it'd be nice to see the same with regard to homophobia.
5) Better Adoption Laws
Thirty-four states do not routinely allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt a child. That's a shame, both for the couples who want to start families and the kids who miss out on a loving and supportive home. I think we can all agree that having two moms or two dads is better than having none.
6) Anti-Homophobia PSAs for Adults
Wanda Sykes and others have starred in public service announcements that question teenagers who call something gay when they mean that it's stupid. That's great for teens, and I'd love to see more of it, but it's also important to address adult homophobia. Some possible PSAs for adults could point parents of LGBT teenagers to affirming resources or highlight the negative effects of anti-gay prejudice.
7) A Discussion About Intersectionality
People are not queer in a vacuum in which being LGB or T is the only part of who they are; all LGBT people are affected by their race, socioeconomic status, religious or cultural background and geographic location. That can mean a black lesbian experiences more anti-gay job discrimination than a white gay man, or a gay teenager feels isolated because he lives in a small town with few openly gay people. Being more aware of this isn't going to solve anything by itself, but it is a good step.
8) Helping Homeless LGBT Youth
LGBT teenagers make up an estimated 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth, and transgender youth are especially likely to become homeless. Hopefully, with society's shifting attitudes, there will be fewer parents who kick their kids out of the house, or treat them so poorly that they leave. Besides that shift, increased efforts to find LGBT-affirming foster families and expanding the resources available specifically for homeless LGBT teens are ways to help those who are still without a home.
9) Addressing the Needs of LGBT Elders
LGBT elders are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to live alone, are denied spousal and survivor benefits from social security and are vulnerable to insensitive treatment and abuse from prejudiced care workers. Among the ways to address these issues include mandatory LGBT-inclusive diversity trainings for care workers and having LGBT community activities in assisted living facilities.
10) More Courage from Politicians
President Obama made history this year when he became the first sitting president to support same-sex marriage. I hope that more politicians follow his lead when it comes to LGBT rights in 2013. Some politicians come from districts that will be hostile to LGBT rights legislation, but it is up to those politicians to say that doing what is right is what's most important. Other politicians do not push for LGBT rights very much because of other pressing problems, but it is always the appropriate time to address injustice and promote fairer treatment under the law. I hope that our politicians show courage this coming year; a lot of progress can happen without the support of politicians, but it's far easier when they're vocal supporters on our side.
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