Youth voice: No one in society should be treated as a token

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AFTER being a part of Trident High School’s first Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and personally getting to know most of the other Rainbow Kids at Trident High, I’ve realised that people that aren’t a part of the community have little to no knowledge of the struggles, hardships or even the meaning of the LGBTQ+ community.

Queer people have always lived in a heteronormative society and I think it’s about time that we as a community changed that.

Members of our local community don’t know much about LGBTQ+ and that is where prejudice can start. Stereotypes, tokenism, and gay/lesbian/bi erasure is still very prominent in our society.

Typical stereotypes will paint gay men as “too girly” and overly feminine, and gay women as overly masculine and “tomboy-ish”, and although these stereotypes may fit some members of the community, to generalise them as a whole and paint them all the same is wrong and harmful. It is often heard that people want a “gay best-friend”.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual people are not tokens, to be collected and celebrated as such.

This mindset contributes largely to tokenism; the act of making a perfunctory effort to be inclusive of members of minority groups in order to give the appearance of racial or sexual equality within a workforce. For example, tokenism in parliament. Acceptance of diversity within parliament is very evident.

There are rooms designed specifically to represent minority groups such as LGBTQ+ members as well as Pasifika members. But the worry for such representation is that these groups and communities are only used as a sort of “trophy on the mantelpiece”. There is a worry that they are only there for show but can face the risk of being shoved to the back and being hidden away again.

To ensure that no one is treated as a token, work forces should be more inclusive in representing minority groups; more Rainbow groups, more workers that are apart of the LGBTQ+ community, and overall more representation of queer people. To allow change to happen, the normalisation of minority groups within the workforce need to be accepted.

Acknowledging your privilege as a cis-gender heterosexual person, or someone not of colour and using your platform to promote awareness of prejudice and making efforts to squash it.

LGBTQ+ people cannot necessarily be identified by the way they dress/act/talk etc, they are a part of the community and can be just the same as anyone else. They should not be stereotyped as someone that dresses too feminine or too masculine, they are, simply put, just people.