In recent weeks, many Republican-led states — especially in the South — have made national headlines by considering, and in some cases passing, legislation promoting local anti-LGBTQ discrimination policies or enacting protections for businesses and other institutions that deny services to LGBTQ individuals and groups.
The legislation is cloaked in the language of protecting religious liberties and individual rights of businesses and other entities, but it is in large part a boldfaced anti-gay attack seeking to exploit homophobic biases among the electorate.
Even deeply conservative politicians who are known as strong defenders of individual and religious liberties — among others, Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) — have rejected these efforts as bigoted and divisive after major Hollywood corporations with locations in Georgia spoke out against them.
This legislation has prompted a groundswell of support for the LGBTQ community from national gay rights groups and large, global companies and politicians, among others.
Unfortunately, the outcry has barely been matched on campus, which is home to many students — including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender — who hail from these states.
Indeed, there has been very little community discussion on campus about LGBTQ rights since the United States Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide last summer, even though members of these communities still suffer from various forms of legal discrimination and individual bigotry.
Especially concerning are the rates of poverty, homelessness and sexual assault — especially for transgender Americans — that are exponentially higher in comparison to those for straight and cisgender Americans.
Besides the occasional campus protest against anti-LGBTQ groups — like when members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested outside the front gates last year — far too many students on campus seem complacent in thinking that because same-sex marriage is now legal, the issue of gay rights is over as well.
Because students passionately protested for marriage equality last year in D.C., they should continue to speak out against the anti-gay legislation being passed in their home states.
The erosion of legal protections for the LGBTQ community across the country is unquestionably a cause for outcry, protest and activism.
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