Thursday, April 21, 2016
How LGBT Friendly Are Millennials?
We've got to give it up to our generation. According to Pew Research, we are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. It's no wonder that our generation's open to change attitude has spread to that of accepting attitudes towards LGBT individuals. While the Reagan Religious might have shunned any identity that varied from heteronormativity, millennials have seen the Supreme Court stand in support of gay marriage.Since the Supreme Court moves incrementally, and often in favor of public opinion, it must be a mere reflection of our country's changing attitudes and an avid attempt to redefine the norm. It is estimated that 73% of all millennials (those born after 1980), are in support of gay marriage. Among ages 18-29, there is 81% of support for gay marriage. And, we're not just talking about gay marriage here, 61% of all millennials say they would support comprehensive measures of nondiscrimination against all LGBT individuals. This is outstandingly supportive, considering the last three generations before us, those born between 1928-1980 show support rates between 39-59%. When analyzing these statistics, it is not out of the ordinary to assume that because of this great amount of support, millennials are much more LGBT friendly.
But I wonder how valid is this rosy picture of millennials and their changing attitudes. Humans and their attitudes are shaped by socialization, and if their parents taught them that gays are going to bring the apocalypse, some will also have that same viewpoint. We've all been in social circles in which there was an individual (maybe a few) who has expressed anti-LGBT views. Surely, it is not us ourselves who hold such regressive attitudes, but maybe we should not quickly dismiss such a notion. I also have a Christian friend, let's say his name is Tom, who has expressed that because America has allowed gay marriage, it can no longer be considered a Christian nation. He has not lamented whether this is a good or bad thing, but a thing that just is. However, it is problematic that ones sexual preference, according to Tom, automatically negates them from being apart of a particular faith, Christianity. I have another friend named Emma, who is not a Christian, but an atheist, who has expressed that she does not want her future children to grow up to be gay, especially her son. Emma is also a confidante to a mutual friend of ours who recently came out as bisexual to his family at the age of twenty one. Such conversation around my own friends in one of the most progressive cities on the planet (Los Angeles), with some of the most educated pupils on the planet, got me thinking that these types of conversations might not as rare as I would hope.
In the last year alone, anti LGBT efforts have been taken among students in high schools. In Pennsylvania, students wrote anti-gay on their hands on the National Day of Silence (a day created in 2001 in which LGBT students and allies stand against anti-gay efforts and discrimination in schools). These students also placed homophobic and anti- gay slurs on students lockers on this day. In addition, just this year in February, students at a school in Southern California started an anti- gay campaign by placing crossed out rainbows on their student identification cards. It is important to note that both of these efforts against heteronormativity are from students, millennials themselves. The even greater point behind these is that students of the anti are not facing any consequences because administration at both schools support the student's right to freedom of speech in both of these accounts.
We tend to hold the perception that regressive attitudes die with generations. But, we know that when it comes to socialization, none has a greater effect on us than our parents and our peers. Is it possible that millennials are socially pressured to be or seem LGBT friendly but are as intolerant behind closed doors as the generations behind them? They say numbers don't lie, but maybe we should ponder the possibility that numbers do not always tell the full story either.