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Opinion | We are not the problem, ignorance is

Members of the LGBTQ community are no different than anyone else.

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The attacks on the LGBTQ community in the Alabama Legislature are frightening and dangerous. From the “Don’t Say Gay” bill to requiring students to use the bathroom of their birth gender to removing books from libraries that have LGBTQ content, the Republicans are showing their ignorance about our history and contributions to society.

My question is, why? Have they sat down and talked with members of our communities to get a better understanding of who we are?  The answer is clear: NO.  

We are not the problem. Ignorance is. Members of the LGBTQ community are no different than anyone else. We pay taxes, attend church, care for our families, and cheer for our favorite football team. We are your family members, neighbors, and co-workers. We are doctors, CEO’s, home care workers, lawyers, and service workers. We want to live our lives free from discrimination and hate.

So why are these bills even being considered? Because it is easier to attack a marginalized community than it is to have honest conversations with us. Fear Mongering is alive and well in Alabama; our sorted history supports that. Republicans have learned that if they create a “boggy man” that will take something from you, they can win. The LGBTQ community is their new “boggy man.”  

The bill sponsors believe we are “grooming kids” to be gay. How stupid. Most of us were raised by heterosexual parents, and believe me, nobody provided me with an “orientation” on sexual identity.

I was raised by two loving, devoted parents who taught me what love really is. They met after my father came home from WWII, when he was an Army photographer. He shared with me about the experience of war and took photos of the concentration camps to educate me about what hate looks like. It had a profound impact on me, learning that a government would lock up people because they belonged to a specific group. That hate started by banning books and spreading misinformation. Sound familiar? Ignorance allows history to repeat itself.

The impact of these bills will increase violence against members of my community, especially those who identify as transgender.  I have a good friend who is transgender and drop-dead gorgeous and as feminine as you can get. She would now be required to use the men’s restroom and potentially be subject to harassment and assault. She would also be required to have her driver’s license gender identity as male. If law enforcement pulled her over, she could be arrested for a false identity – because these bill’s sponsors don’t think about the real consequences of the laws they want to pass.

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These so-called Christians tend to forget the Bible verse from Leviticus (yes, the Old Testament) that says, “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself,” often referred to as the “golden rule.”  

Stop the ignorance and focus on the real problems we have in Alabama. We will not go away, and you will not erase us from existence.

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