Major news outlets have gone all-out on reporting on the Proposition 8 hearing in the Supreme Court this week, but though making marriage legal for all Americans is important and necessary for the betterment of our democracy, there are many under-reported issues facing the LGBTQ community that the media should pick up.
Yes, the ability for same-sex couples to marry and adopt children is important for the legal status and day-to-day life of many queer Americans. But problems such as discrimination, homelessness, poverty, abuse and mental health issues are still much more common for LGBTQ-identified people than many believe.
For one, discrimination against LGBTQ people of color is also much worse than against white LGBTQ people. A 2010 reports found 70 percent of anti-LGBTQ murders are committed against people of color.
Transgender people, who will only be affected by the Prop 8 case if they also identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, also face significant discrimination. A recent survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 63 percent of transgender Americans had either lost their jobs, were evicted, faced bullying that caused them to drop out of school or faced physical or sexual assault, were homeless, were denied medical service or were incarcerated because of their gender identity or expression.
Nearly a quarter of transgender Americans have had four of the previous incidents happen.
About 20 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, even though the general youth population is about 10 percent LGBT-identified, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. If homeless, LGBT youth are more than seven times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual cisgender homeless youth. These LGBT youth are also about twice as likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual cisgender counterparts.
Most news outlets aren’t covering these in coordination with the Supreme Court hearings. The legal issues and historical context surrounding same-sex marriage are enough to fill airtime, but there are other issues that can be brought into the national consciousness when the LGBTQ community is in the news.
All types of minorities are affected by this sort of single-issue coverage but, while the push for same-sex marriage has been important in the LGBTQ community in recent years, such tunnel-vision focus can marginalize the T and Q members of the LGBTQ community in particular.
As one USC student, Dylan, a junior majoring in gender studies, put it: “They’re not glamorous and they’re not relevant to affluent — or white — cisgender LGB people, and it’s frustrating.”
The Supreme Court is expected to make its ruling on Prop 8 in June, and whatever the justices decide is certainly important. Some of the media‘s coverage has had a strange effect, however — a 2011 Gallup poll found that U.S. adults, on average, think about 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian.
In reality, a Gallup poll from October of 2012 stated that 3.4 percent of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, which means the decision will affect a fairly small minority of Americans. But it’s a minority that faces far more issues than apparent at first glance — ones that are less hot-button and more endemic, and need to enter the national dialogue now more than ever.
Rachel Bracker is a junior majoring in linguistics. She is also a managing editor of the Daily Trojan.