In the last few years, Minnesota has been a leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality. In 2013, Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage. This historic moment came just months after a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage failed.
In 2014, the Minnesota State High School League approved a policy that “allows participation for all students regardless of their gender identity or expression in an environment free from discrimination with an equal opportunity for participation in athletics and fine arts (read the full text here).”
The City of Minneapolis has also made advances in LGBTQ equality. The city’s Transgender Issues Work Group, established in March 2014, has already made progress on a number of issues, including access to gender neutral restrooms, police department training and policies, and employer education.
While progress has certainly been made, discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity most certainly exists in Minnesota. This discrimination is especially apparent when we consider our state’s youth. The middle and high school years in particular prove to be trying, painful, and at times, deadly for LGBTQ youth.
According to a 2013 study by GLSEN, the majority of LGBTQ students in Minnesota have been bullied based on their sexual orientation. “The majority experienced verbal harassment (e.g., called names or threatened): more than 7 in 10 based on their sexual orientation and nearly 6 in 10 based on the way they expressed their gender,” the report states. “Many also experienced physical harassment and physical assault: for example, nearly 3 in 10 were physically harassed based on their sexual orientation and more than 1 in 10 were physically assaulted based on the way they expressed their gender.”
That same study reveals an equally troubling fact about the faculty of these schools. Twenty three percent of students “regularly heard school staff make negative remarks about someone’s gender expression and 14% regularly heard staff make homophobic remarks.”
While discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in the state of Minnesota, that doesn’t mean that our work is done. We need to educate people about the discrimination and barriers that LGBTQ individuals face and work to make our state a place where all Minnesotans have equal opportunities and rights.
You can help us continue to fight for equality for the LGBTQ community, all you have to do is let us know you’re interested. To learn more about how you can make a difference, visit the ‘Get Involved‘ section of our website.