LGBTQ rights are human rights

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In early November, on a bus in California, a 17 year-old boy allegedly set fire to the skirt of self-identified agendered teen, inflicting second and third-degree burns all over their body.

I’m outraged by this. I’m outraged by the fact that someone can be so compelled to hate and so compelled to hurt someone else over the insignificant act of choosing different clothing, or over something so personal as their gender or sexuality. I’m outraged that someone was hurt due to this compulsion.

And as much as I would love to speak simply about how much this outrages me, I’m discouraged at the prospect. Aside from the story, what else is there to talk about? Everyone that will be outraged is outraged. Simply stating that this upsets me seems to side with those who respect modern gender/sexuality definitions and human rights against those who don’t. And it seems impossible to change the minds of those who don’t.

How will standing on one side of the debate berating the ignorance of those on the other help solve the problem? Berating is not respecting the deeply ingrained beliefs that make someone feel this way; it addresses the symptoms, not the problem.

Regardless, if we have the chance to say anything, we must. Even if all we can think to do is berate; even if we feel one side of a debate is exhausted. We have to keep talking, keep debating matters that raise concerns as serious as this one. If a topic is important enough to arouse an opinion, it’s never worthless to join in a conversation about it.

We need to think and talk about the fact that, in the modern world, people’s lives are destroyed for something as personal as their sexuality. We can’t just leave it to the LGBTQ groups, or those affected by the issue directly to think about it.

In the past, I’ve considered myself lucky for not subscribing to a non-binary gender, for not being able to be tortured like that Californian teen. But I’m not lucky, and he and others aren’t unlucky. As much as I am unlucky to have brown hair because some like red better, or unlucky to have green eyes when some prefer brown, my gender subscription is neutral in the matter.

When people are attacked for wearing clothing of their choice, our society is out of luck. These aren’t problems of ignorant teenagers, or problems to be left to the LGBTQ community; these are problems that concern human rights.

So long as we’re human, we can’t ignore when this happens. We can’t shut this out, call ourselves lucky, and try to let these problems rest on someone else. If you’re given the chance to think about it, do so. Speak about it. Debate it. Vote on it. Not because you can, but because you have to.