Letter: Charlotte McConnell, Equality Loudoun Steering Committee

Editor: Pride month is over, but it seems there are many people who don’t understand why we celebrate Pride. Pride is when our rainbow community and allies celebrate our accomplishments, build community, and highlight issues that are impacting us.

LGBT people are afraid to come out at work because they might be fired. The Virginia Senate has passed protections for gender identity and sexual orientation in housing and employment. When this legislation goes over to our House of Delegates, however, it can’t even get to the floor for a full vote.

It’s 2019 and many LGBTQ couples are afraid to show affection in public. If gay couples are getting beaten up in DC and London, how can I even consider holding my same sex partner’s hand in Loudoun? We have seen a rash of anti-LGBT violence this month.

The FBI reported in their annual hate crimes statistics for 2017 that 16.5 percent of the 7,106 single-bias incidents were motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias. We know these incidents are on the rise. Virginia has been unable to include gender identity or sexual orientation in our definition of a hate crime.

Transgender people, predominately women of color, are being murder at alarming rates. The average life expectancy for a transgender woman of color is 31. So far this year, 11 trans women of color have been murdered.

Only five states have banned the gay or trans panic defense. This is when a defendant asserts their violent behavior against an individual was a rational response to their victim being LGBT. This is a shameful practice that must stop.

Our LGBTQ community suffers from higher rates of suicide than heterosexuals. 47.7 percent of LGB students have considered suicide compared to 13.3 percent of heterosexual. The suicide rate in our transgender community is 41 percent. Their rates are higher not because of their identities but because of the discrimination and rejection they face for being who they are.

Being LGBTQ is not a choice and it cannot be “prayed away”. Conversion therapy has been recognized by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics as harmful while having little or no potential for achieving change. A recent study shows people who have experienced conversion therapy have an increased risk for suicide.

LGBT people experience Intimate partner violence as often or more often the general US population. Fifteen percent of bisexual women, compared to 4.4 percent of heterosexual women reported their partner used a knife or gun during incidents of intimate partner violence. We also know LGBTQ people are less likely to seek support services when faced with intimate partner violence because of the animosity they face or their fear of coming out.

Until society stops assuming that a woman with a wedding ring is married to a man, we must continue to celebrate Pride. Until kids are no longer kicked out of their homes because of who they love or who they are, we must continue to celebrate Pride. Until people are no longer being fired from jobs or denied housing or medical attention because of who they love or who they are, we must continue to celebrate Pride.

Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

Equality Loudoun Steering Committee

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