The LGBTQIA+ community has for a long time, and still is to this day, often misrepresented and, those a part of it, victimized for something seemingly as small as a lack of knowledge and understanding. Knowing what each letter stands for and what they mean is not particularly enough for understanding this community as a whole and what it stands for. However it is a start. LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbain, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, queer/questioning, intersexual, asexual and the plus represents those who identify as pansexual or are simply allies of the community.
One of the most important things to note with this is that labels do not have to be used and many find that they hold them back from representing themselves in their full potential, but for those who do use them, it is crucial that people around them, like peers and teachers, understand what they mean. Without this understanding, it is easy to produce prejudice and discrimination based on the way someone chooses to identify themselves leaving them feeling lost, lonely, and/or unbelonging.
Recognizing that someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity does not take away rights that others may easily have and take advantage of is yet another idea we must educate ourselves and each other upon before making assumptions. People of the LGBTQIA+ community have the same rights as those not belonging to the community to freedom of speech and expression, particularly gender expression, privacy, and to be protected against harassment and bullying.
Most often, we see these rights challenged in schools and in the education system as many are discriminated against by their own classmates because of a lack of knowledge that could be provided by the school. Many schools fail to create an inclusive environment for students of all different sexual orientations and gender identities.
This issue can be improved upon with several little changes. For example, schools can add LGBTQ-inclusive sex education to the health curriculum as well as creating gay-straight alliance clubs (GSAs) so students of this community have a safe and non-judgemental place they can go to and talk to people who understand them better than others might.
As human beings, it is in our nature to make premeditated judgements based on what we see or hear. However, it is what we do with these judgments that displays our characters and our willingness to learn about things that we typically make suppositions upon without digging deeper. If we fail to care about our peers, fellow citizens, family and friends enough to learn about what they are most passionate about and what they go through each day just as a result of being who they are, we will never be able to live in a world of equality and acceptance.