The LGBTQ rainbow flag, which is supposed to be a symbol of pride, has recently been used as a reason for high rates of targeted harassment against the LGBTQ community.
In Missouri, John M. Wallis, a teacher at Neosho Junior High School, had to resign last month after he received backlash from the school district and parents for having a rainbow flag in his classroom.
In Georgia, a teenager at Lowndes High School attacked another student for carrying a rainbow flag around school last month. The student was charged with disorderly conduct, simple battery and disruption of a public facility.
In Florida, a group of friends, including a transgender student, from Seminole Middle School were attacked back in June for having a rainbow Pride flag, resulting in several suspensions.
Attacks on the LGBTQ community are not new and the fight for the LGBTQ community being seen as people and treated fairly is ongoing.
In 1998, Matthew Shepard was murdered simply for being gay. One of the deadliest mass shootings happened in a targeted attack on the LGBTQ community at the Pulse nightclub in 2016.
According to FBI statistics, hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are on the rise, with 1,197 incidents in 2018, the most recent year for which such statistics are available.
With every incident involving hate against the LGBTQ community, it shows the increasing need for things like Pride month and marches to persist.
Members of the LGBTQ community should not have to feel unsafe at school, at work or anywhere else simply for being who they are. Just as everyone is able to express themselves freely, so should the community.
Instead of sitting by and watching hate happen before our eyes, it is time to speak up about these incidents, condemn them and call them out for what they are – blatant homophobia.