The Human Rights of LGBT Persons: A Collection of Op-Eds by UArizona Human Rights Practice Students

Dec. 6, 2021

 

These ten op-eds were written by MA students in a UArizona Human Rights Practice Course on “The Human Rights of LGBT Persons” taught in summer 2021 by Prof. Raymond Smith. This collection was edited by students Kathy E. Bauer, Rachel Briggs, Aubry Eggers, Marsha Jewell McDowell, and Abby Nelson. The titles and first paragraphs of the op-eds are below. The full texts can be read in the PDF attached below.

 

LGBT Inclusion in Schools: A Teacher’s Perspective, by Erin Willis
“Kids... I don’t know what I pictured when I thought of someone attempting suicide, but it wasn’t a 15 year old.” Those were the words of Dr. Anne Hallward, a pediatric psychiatrist when she first learned that one of the highest rates of suicide is among LGBT youth. “Over 30% of all LGBT teenagers attempt suicide…” Hallward warns, “…Something serious is happening when that many children feel so hopeless that they want to die....”

Ongoing Violations of Transgender Youth’s Access to Gender-affirming Healthcare, by Jessica Ugstad
Many members and allies of the LGBT community hoped that with the election of President Biden the assault on the rights of transgender people would cease. In fact, Biden’s win may have ignited more bigotry. As of July 2021, legislatures in 15 US states have attempted to introduce bills that violate Articles 2, 5, and 25(1) of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) by denying and/or criminalizing gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. According to the Trevor Project 29% of high-school- age transgender students had attempted suicide while “57% of transgender and non-binary youth” subjected to conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt...

Pronouns in Prison: A First Step for LGBT Prison Policy Reform, by Marsha Jewell McDowell
“The stakes are really high. Things that in the outside world may seem like just a matter of appearance -- it can be a matter of life and death.” Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for policy and action at the National Center for Transgender Equality continues to argue that treating gender dysphoria goes beyond hormones and surgery. It includes having items such as makeup, hair  extensions, laser hair removal, and clothing as well as the use of chosen pronouns and names. Although the United States has made much progress towards acknowledging these needs for the LGBT community, the prison system lags far behind in policy for anti-discrimination and protection"...

Ohio is Not Open for Business: Pass the Ohio Fairness Act, by Meredith LeMoyne Hood
In Ohio it is still legal to discriminate against LGBT persons in employment practices. Because Ohio’s non-discrimination employment law does not recognize sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes, Ohio remains one of 27 states where individuals can be denied jobs on these grounds. Even though it has been demonstrated that employers who follow nondiscriminatory procedures have access to a “larger, more diverse and higher quality workforce,” Ohioans can still be refused promotions and training and be subjected to harassment due to their sexual orientation...

“Being Gay Was Not My Choice...”, by Kathy E. Bauer
“Being gay was not my choice. But not to accept it is a choice. Homophobia and [transphobia] are personal choices, and we must fight against them. Freedom of speech only goes as far as not harming other people.” As a proponent of free expression, the protections of the First Amendment, and the Civil Rights Act, the speech by Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s resonated with me. I agreed with his words, but I wanted more...

Can Human Rights be at Odds with One Another?, by Rachel Briggs
Can human rights be at odds with one another? No, but the application of laws protecting human rights can show gaps in the protection of those most vulnerable. This is the experience in the United States and the fight for the rights of LGBT persons to be free from discrimination and the United States application of laws protecting religious freedom. Many states offer legal protections for specific groups within the LGBT community, but they are insufficient, often limited in scope. Because of this, federal legislation must be enacted to protect the rights of all to be free from discrimination and draw a clear, legal line between religious liberty and where expression of said freedom interferes and impedes the rights of others...

No Safe Space for LGBT Refugees: Addressing Sexual Violence Within Camps, by Abby Nelson
In refugee camps such as the Kakuma camp in Kenya, LGBT refugees have been beaten, raped, stabbed, robbed, and threatened by fellow refugees and host community residents. In June of 2020, thirty LGBT refugees in this camp were taken to the hospital after an attack. Though I wish that this was a rare occurrence, it is just one of many examples of violence committed towards LGBT populations in refugee camps...

The Purge of Chechnya, by Aubry Eggers
Rounded up like cattle, detained without a word as to why, starved for days, and tortured. Why? Because you are gay, suspected to be gay, or part of the LGBTIA+ community. You look for protection, but the people who you are supposed to go to for help and protection, are the perpetrators: law enforcement and your government. At the beginning of 2017, the Chechen Russian authorities began persecutions against LGBTQIA+ individuals, specifically gay men...

Abuse of LGBT Migrants is Common in Detention, by Carlos Alberto Yanez Navarro
The United States has long held in its national discourse that it is the beacon of light for migrants and for peace. But as the world’s largest jailer operating the world’s largest migrant detention system, human rights abuses and violence have become normalized for the over 50,000 individuals detained within the 200 immigrant jails and prisons in the country. a country with so many jails and detention centers, the lack of Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programs is alarming and there must be a focus on creating and implementing ATD programs...

Refugee Camps are Failing the LGBT Community, by Sharon Marie Berardino
The historical planning of refugee camps has typically taken a top-down approach, as they were designed to be temporary spaces. A bottom-up approach would likely be more beneficial for all, considering the number of refugees globally and the amount of time they are spending in camps, continues to grow. This is further supported by The UN Refugee Agency's report on Addressing Refugee Security which states, “The participation of refugees in the physical planning and management of a camp is thus as essential as their involvement in the mechanisms governing assistance and protection.” When specifically thinking about the needs of the LGBT community, a specialist in refugee shelters was quoted as saying “I can’t think of ever having a discussion with someone about LGBT and shelter before"...

 

Please see the PDF below to read the op-eds.