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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The United States is time traveling in the wrong direction

We cannot call 2023 a progressive year; it is more regressive than anything else. We find ourselves in a gruesome situation where senators argue about the rights and very existence of the LGBTQ+ community. According to Jo Yurcaba at NBC News, “more than 100 bills targeting LGBTQ rights and queer life—from transgender health care to drag shows—have been filed in 22 states”[1]. This quote was taken from a news article published in January, so things are even worse now. In certain places, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has already been passed.

In Tennessee, public drag performances are now illegal [2]. Due to new laws in Florida and Alabama regarding mental health counseling, teachers may be required to inform parents if their students disclose they might be gay or transgender [3]. A law in Alabama that mirrors Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill forbids transgender students from using restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender [10]. Restrictions on which sports teams transgender students can join in South Dakota and Tennessee have gone into effect [4]. The country is just going back in time and ignoring everyone who died, was killed or helped the community get the independence they deserve.

On June 26, 2015, Jim Obergefell, a civil rights activist, said, “Our love is equal,” marking the legalization of same-sex weddings in the states [5]. The legalization of same-sex marriage will soon celebrate its eighth anniversary, but this recent tsunami of legislation has brought up the threat of criminalizing same-sex weddings again. Legalizing same-sex marriages took more than 50 years [6], but here we are again, where legislation mainly passed by rich, white, heterosexual and older men is threatening the very existence of LGBTQ+ people. Minorities in this country are again left alone to suffer. LGBTQ+ youth are scared daily, yet they are ready to fight for what they deserve.

When asked about how this will affect the people, Christelle Joseph, a sophomore, replied, “I would love to use stronger words, but this being a school newspaper, I will refrain from. I think this is crazy, and it makes me sad and angry; people will have to return to their closet and simmer in suffocation. Eventually, it might turn into a crisis.”

In August of 2022, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, was on a 10-day tour in the southern U.S.[7] Madrigal-Borloz concluded his trip by saying that LGBTQ+ people, mainly those of color, face discrimination in job opportunities, health care, housing and more [7].

When asked about which generation legislation changes will affect the most, UMass Boston student Oscar Brown replied, “It will have a profound impact on all generations of queer people. As a history major, I have seen how legislation has affected people at the time, and retroactively, it will fracture the communities that will define the next generation. So there will be a lasting impact.”

Even though Boston is known for welcoming the LGBTQ+ community, the city council and all universities in Massachusetts should speak up. They should speak up for the people living in this state and for the community in other states.

When interviewed, Nabeera Shahzad, senior and the former coordinator of the Queer Student Center said, “I think the anti-LGBTQ—particularly anti-trans—rhetoric is not anything new in this country, but it is being actively upheld stronger than ever on a political stage. Many centrists and extremists no longer hold their contempt for sexual and racial minorities behind closed doors anymore or behind the guise of ‘family values.’”

I also asked all three interviewees how UMass Boston could react or what it could do for the students. Brown said, “The University should take more defined steps, as it doesn’t only affect politics, but it affects lives and […] students, the future of this country.” Joseph wants the University to be more active by taking stands and supporting the students. Shahzad said, “I think it has all gotten to a point where students, student leaders in particular, are feeling the administrative dismissiveness, and it’s starting to trickle down on the student body. There was a time when most people said, ‘I love UMB, and I’m sad to leave.’ Now, I’m hearing more and more, ‘I hate it here. I can’t wait to be done and leave.’”

Last year, UMass Boston launched a campaign where students got to use and put their pronouns, preferred name, gender identity and sexual orientation on WISER and Blackboard [8]. This campaign was the first step to making the community feel more included on campus, but after a couple of weeks, students and faculty stopped talking about it. The oceanfront campus needs more than just a pronoun campaign; UMass Amherst has been recognized more than twice as one of the best campuses for the LGBTQ+ community [9]. UMass Boston needs to step up and take a stand to support their LGBTQ+ students, while others are trying to kill their rights and destroy their community.

[1]https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-politics-and-policy/100-anti-lgbtq-bills-state-legislatures-2023-far-activists-say-fired-rcna65349

[2]https://time.com/6260421/tennessee-limiting-drag-shows-status-of-anti-drag-bills-u-s/

[3]https://time.com/6208554/florida-lgbtq-teachers-dont-say-gay-education-law/

[4]https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2021-12-01/these-states-restrict-how-transgender-students-participate-in-school-sports

[5]https://apnews.com/article/marriage-anthony-kennedy-ohio-state-government-united-states-tennessee-9dc57b83f3ae2fc7d2e007aa80bf33a3

[6]https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/05/13/us/document-baker-vs-nelson-case.html

[7]https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/08/1125842

[8] https://www.umb.edu/all-of-us/inclusive_identity

[9]https://www.umass.edu/news/article/umass-amherst-recognized-top-lgbtq

[10]https://abcnews.go.com/US/alabama-legislature-passes-dont-gay-trans-care-bathroom/story?id=83940764

About the Contributor
Vansh Khokhani, Arts Writer