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Love thy Neighbor

Pride month is well underway across the country and serves as a focal point to elevate the struggle the LGBTQ+ community has faced even before events like the Stonewall Riots and Pulse massacre served to elevate those struggles.

In spite of the historic 6-3 Bostok decision by the U.S. Supreme Court and actions by the Florida Human Relations Commissions to mandate employment and housing protections, our community still faces adversity.

Recently, our library system took a bold step forward (with guidance from the American Library Association) and put up small Pride displays in a few of the branches of the local library system. As a native of this county, I applaud these efforts and wish they had been in place in the 1990s when I was a teenager in this community. A few concerned citizens spoke on the record at a recent Board of County Commissioners meeting, calling this a “political ideology” and then advocated for a “respect for life” display for October.

Perhaps education of the populace, and our county commissioners is in order. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between 13 and 18 in Florida, often with an unsecured gun found in their own home. LGBTQ+ youths are more than three times as likely to commit suicide than straight youths in this age group. LGBTQ+ youths who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGBTQ+ peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Education about the reality of what it means to be LGBTQ+ for parents, family members and others in the community is essential to decreasing these numbers. Finding representation of one’s self in a safe space, such as a library, increase self worth; a key component to deterring someone from committing suicide. The irony of the anti-Pride display people calling for a pro-Life display is rich and comes from a place of hate, not from a place of “love thy neighbor.”

While our county commission may never issue a Pride Month proclamation, it’s important that members of the LGBTQ+ know that there is a community here and we stand united to fight discrimination and intolerance.

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