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LGBTQ Culture
Katie Reister
Southern Oregon University

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Abstract

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Title
LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer, and is
used to designate a community of people whose sexual or gender identities can create shared
political and social concerns. The LGBTQ acronym does not encompass everybody (in text
citation here from http://www.liberateyourself.co.uk/lgbtq/what-is-lgbtq/). The LGBTQ
definition and culture can be somewhat of a mystery to those who do not take the time to educate
themselves. However, it is a prevalent culture in todays society and one that deserves just as
much respect as any other culture.
In the 1920s and 1930s urban gay subculture became evident to the United States.
Chicagos society for human rights was one of the first organizations to bring support to the gay
community. Later on, in the 1950s, laws came about that restricted gay and lesbian individuals
from being hired by the government. In addition, gay citizens were treated poorly and harassed
as well as pushed out of their own culture specific bars. Furthermore, in order to fight back
against the discrimination, Harry Hay and Charles Rowland formed the Mattachine Society. This
society would later grow and gain more members in order to fight for their rights as a
community.
Moreover, the 1960s through the 1990s saw many laws, protests/riots, trials, tribulations
and triumphs. In 1962, Illinois became the first state to legalize acts of homosexuality between
consenting adults. In 1969, New York City experienced a multiple day due to police raiding what
is now known as the Stonewall Inn; the riot may have died down after several days but it became
one of the well known gay liberation movements. By 1973 there were approximately 750
registered gay and lesbian organizations in the United States; by 1990 the number of registered

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organizations increased by thousands. During this same time the gay and lesbian community
gained back their rights in the work force; employers were no longer permitted to discriminate
against sexual orientation. In addition, Wisconsin was able to outlaw discrimination against
sexual orientation altogether in 1982. Unfortunately, in 1998 a young, gay, student was cruelly
murdered; the death of Matthew Shepherd was an unfortunate event, but an event that,
nonetheless, brought about a new understanding for unruly treatment towards the gay and lesbian
society.
Currently, the United States is progressing and becoming more accepting of same sex
marriage\ In the article Learning from Gay and Lesbian Students Stories it is stated, These legal
outcomes provide evidence that the gay rights movement is gaining strength, resulting in a
growing sense of pride and liberation of LGBTQ individuals along with evidence of mounting
dominant-culture acts to curtail the movement and continue discriminatory policies and practices
against gay and lesbian citizens, (In text citation here). So, while not every state may be
accepting of these relationships or even rights, as a country the understanding and exception of
change is increasing tremendously. While some may disagree, it is important to mindful to that
fact that no matter what culture a person is/comes from they are still a part of our society in the
United States. The Pledge of Allegiance says it best: With liberty and justice for all,
(citation?).
As a cultural community, it seems as though LGBTQ make a point to stand together and
stand up for themselves. However, even in their unity issues can arise. After researching I have
found that they face issues with gender identity (both with the public and with people they share
a close relationship with), lack of respect or understanding from the authority figures in their
lives as well as mistreatment by peers, or even the general public.

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The article As a Mom and a Teacher by Jody Sokolower gives a story of a girl raised by
two women. Her moms take pride in their rights as women, because for so long it is what they
fought for. However, their daughter struggles with the idea of gender identity; her mom, and
teacher, struggle to grasp the idea of their own offspring not wanting to be like them; because she
has experienced issues with confusion she does do her best to understand. The mother goes on to
ask her child what she needs teachers to understand, in which her child Ericka responds: What
gender-variant youth need are teachers who dont make assumptions, who ask lots of questions
and then listen to the answers. Everyone is different. When a kid tells you whats important to
them, thats what they want you to do, (citation here). Children that classify themselves as
gender variant, as well as any youth within the LGBTQ culture, need educators to stop and
listen. Just as any other student, they have different preferences. This characteristic does not
mean teachers should shut them out and not consider their needs. As a figure of authority and
someone that will hopefully impact a students life for the better, teachers should strive to teach
them in the best way possible just like any other student.
The story Breaking Silences, by Robert A. McGarry, sheds light on how teachers and
students alike do not take the time to understand or respect the LGBTQ community. Again, how
do we expect these students or even faculty members to feel comfortable at school or work if we
as a society do not at least try to understand where they may be coming from and respect their
personal choices and preferences? In Breaking Silences a student writes a letter to his school that
touches on homophobia. One reason the student believed the homophobia and disrespect existed
in the high school is because no one was willing to stand up for the wrong-doings. On GLSENs
most recent National School Climate Survey, 63.7 percent of LGBT students reported being
verbally harassed, and 72.4 percent heard homophobic remarks, such as faggot or dyke,

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frequently or often at school (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2010), (Citation here). A
teacher of the high school took this statistic, among others, and went to a group of faculty
members to a discussion where he had hopes of dealing with this anti-gay or homophobic
behavior within their school. Surprisingly enough many of the faculty members shared how they
did not address the harassment or demeaning comments that were stated in the classroom. While
educators are told that they should welcome any and all teachable moments, these educators
expressed concern with their lack of knowledge and how others may perceive them if they chose
to embrace the moment. Nonetheless, while the school may have been labeled homophobic, most
of the teachers that participated in the discussion inquired about gaining more knowledge in
order to feel secure when using those moments to teach their students a lesson. Just as Ericka
from the previous article mentioned, students just need people to listen to what they need and act
upon that. While the school in this story may not be in the best shape at the moment, the teachers
that are trying to gain more knowledge to improve the environment are the ones that the LGBTQ
students may remember for forever, and remember them for positive reasons.
So, how can all this knowledge be applied to a classroom? Better yet, how can teachers
educate their students and even co-workers, friends and family about the LGBTQ culture? An
article on LGBTQ youth stated: According to data from CDCs YRBS, the percentage of gay,
lesbian, and bisexual students (across sites) who did not go to school at least one day during the
30 days before the survey because of safety concerns ranged from 11% to 30% of gay and
lesbian students and 12% to 25% of bisexual students, (Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 2014, Page 2). As an educator and someone who may hold some authority it is
important that we address these situations and put an end to any negativity that may be taking
place. Students in general need to feel safe, but for those students who may be of the minority

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they need to feel that everyone around them is going to accept them, respect them and protect
them if necessary. If someone doesnt feel safe they are not going to be productive in their days.
If educators make sure to address the figurative elephant in the room and eliminate it before it
grows out of control then all students and faculty members alike may come to a common
understanding and respect.
After browsing the internet I quickly understood that there is a widespread selection of
curriculum that is gender neutral. Having lessons that are gender neutral can not only help the
LGBTQ community to feel safe and accepted but also educate others on acceptance, inclusion
and not judging others by gender preferences. As teachers, our job is not to educate students on
who they should and how they should be, but rather to provide them with a well-rounded
education so that they can be the best person possible and accomplish anything they set their
minds to. As far as I am concerned, gender is not a way of classifying students. Yes, gender is
something to take pride in and our preferences are something we should stand up for and be
proud of. However, in an educational setting the lessons should be all encompassing and provide
information on many different cultures. In todays society students really need to be aware of
how the world is and how different members of our society can be. And with that being said, we
need to be promoting acceptance in both our lessons to students and our general conversations.
In addition to teaching respect and understanding and adopting an all encompassing and
gender neutral curriculum, school environments need to be very clear and concise with their
policies, procedures and activities. By doing so, the administration team will limit the amount of
situations they encounter that are not easily addressed, teachers will have a more structured
classroom and school environment and students will ultimately benefit from the organization,
clarity and acceptance that is included in their daily school lives.

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After researching the LGBTQ culture I feel like I have a new-found understanding and
appreciation for people who have different preferences than myself. I was unaware of the amount
of history behind the LGBTQ culture, as well as the amount of resources there are for both their
community and others trying to learn more about it. I will admit that prior to conducting the
research for this paper I was incredibly nave and misinformed about the LGBTQ culture and
ways that society can help them to feel safe, accepted and included. Overall, I feel as though this
research will benefit me in many ways. As an individual I can walk away with a better
understanding of another culture, as well as the desire to be more accepting. As a teacher I can
walk away with the understanding that I have the power to promote acceptance and protect my
students. Gaining these new perspectives and understandings has encouraged me to better myself
and apply the information to my educational philosophy.

Acceptance. It is the true thing everyone longs for. The one thing everyone craves. To walk in a
room and to be greeted by everyone with hugs and smiles. And in that small passing moment,
you truly know youre loved, needed and accepted.
-Rena Harmon