An Apology To Our LGBTQ Youth

Libertarian Candidate for
Los Alamos County Council

During last week’s LWV Candidate Forum, we were asked how we would protect our LGBTQ youth? Instead of directly answering what I would do to protect our LGBTQ youth, I went on about fostering a culture of anti-bullying and the lack of attention to mental health needs in this community and how all I can do is plea for the community to be open and inclusive of all identities. I never thought specifically about what I would do to protect our LGBTQ youth because I have the privilege NOT to think about it. To the LGBTQ youth, I am sorry I failed you.

Being raised with privilege made me overlook the oppression inherent in our institutions. For example, I was taught that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead. How could something virtuous be oppressive? The corollary is that anyone who isn’t ahead isn’t working hard, and has nobody to blame but themselves. The problem with that assumption is that people who are “ahead” tend to be people like me (white, heterosexual, cisgender, nondisabled, Christian, male). In other words, success is not only a function of working hard, but also systemic privilege.

To the LGBTQ youth, I acknowledge you are being violently victimized for peacefully living your lives and it is unacceptable. I will embrace LGBTQ culture and role models in education as it has been shown time and time again to be the path from misunderstanding to acceptance. I will participate in the dismantling of institutional privilege by advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training. (I’m currently taking a class on how to use business as a force for good where DEI is intertwined into every facet of business from the workplace to the supply chain.) I will support expert advocacy groups like the diversity task force and gender-sexuality alliances. I will educate myself on LGBTQ issues and encourage others to do the same through literature and involvement in community events like the upcoming LGBTQ+ Deep Dive. I will be more aware of my own hetero- and gender-normative biases and speech. I will be more visible in supporting the LGBTQ community and standing up against anti-LGBTQ injustice. In short, I will be a friend.

I may be a product of privilege, but I don’t have to be a tool for it. To our LGBTQ youth, I will do better.