The next president of the United States needs to tackle issues of discrimination against gender, race and sexuality.
Unfortunately, there will always be discrimination against any group of people that society doesn’t see as “normal.” People who use hateful words to publicly humiliate someone of another race, gender or sexual orientation need to be held more accountable for their actions.
I recently had an encounter crossing Main Street in Keene on the way back to my apartment. A truck stopped for me and yelled out the window “You look really nice today, faggot!” He then proceeded to yell other offensive words at me. I identify as a gay male and using the word “faggot” to publicly out me was not humiliating, but disappointing. I am not ashamed of my sexual orientation, but those words can really hurt those who are less comfortable and harm their self-worth.
What is extremely disappointing is that people who attack others for being different are not held accountable for their actions. The next president should reinforce punishment for those who attack another person either verbally or physically. If our country does not do something about this, people will continue to discriminate because they think it is acceptable in our society and will not be punished.
Take for example the recent movement in Michigan to make sodomy a felony in the state. If the state of Michigan put that same time and effort into the water pollution crisis in Flint, the people of Flint, Michigan, would be safe and able to drink the tap water without getting lead poisoning.
Although discrimination today is not how it was 50 or 60 years ago,it is still exists, just in a new form.
Today, it is common for people to use terms such as “faggot” even if they didn’t mean to say it to attack someone for their sexual preferences. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been apologized to for someone saying the word “faggot” or “gay” to reference something they didn’t like. Discrimination has been going on in our society for so long that it is almost programmed into our brains to use terms like “faggot,” “bitch,” “dyke,” “nigga” or “queer.”
The next president needs to address this because things are not getting any better in our society for those who do not fit white-heterosexual stereotypes. These stereotypes of being “masculine” or “feminine” in order to fit into society have been shaped from years of publicly humiliating those who do not fit the same characteristics.
Society needs to be more accepting of others in order for there to be peace. This cannot happen if people who discriminate are not educated about race, gender and sexual orientations. Even from an early age, people are taught to be hateful toward others who are not like them without even knowing until it becomes a normal practice to judge or attack others.
This is a major problem that the next president needs to focus in on. I hope that issues of discrimination get better in the future and that one day people can step back and think about the words that they are saying.
Jacob Knehr can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org