Sexual violence on campus. Rape culture at university. The news has been buzzing lately about the high number of sexual crimes which occur against college-age students while attending school. Particularly, the failure of most schools to properly report the crimes, support the victims and prosecute the offenders.
However, the news tends to focus on just one group of students – white females. While this does not lessen the gravity of their experiences by any means, it creates an unfair stigma about sexual assault. It fails to bring the conversation full circle to incorporate all survivors.
Women of every ethnicity are subjected to exploitation and sexual abuse while attending school. Beyond that, men are victims of sexual violence, as well. Abuse is not limited to any one race, religion, or gender.
Furthermore, one group of students has been nearly forgotten – the LGBT community.
Dexter Mullins writes:
Amid a growing debate over sexual violence on campus, one community has mostly been absent from the conversation: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
“We’ve made LGBT people invisible in this country for decades,” said Sharon Stapel, the executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, a nonprofit group that advocates for LGBT issues. “Women are conditioned to think that sexual violence is their issue. We really have to look at who is the victim.”
According to a 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in eight lesbians and nearly half of bisexual women have been raped in their lifetime. Four in 10 gay men and nearly half of bisexual men have experienced some form of sexual violence.
Despite a push over the last decade to improve reporting of same-sex sexual assault on college campuses, most such crimes go unreported, Stapel said.
The CDC study found that 1.7 million lesbian or bisexual women and more than 2 million gay or bisexual men experience sexual violence in their lifetime.
By comparison, 19 million heterosexual women are raped in the U.S. during their lifetime. But the LGBT numbers are disproportionately high for a community of about 9 million people, according to research from the Williams Institute, an LGBT research and advocacy organization (linked above).
Regardless of the conflicting views on gay marriage or the LGBT community, the fact remains that all people have worth. All people, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve to be treated with respect. In an issue as important and widespread as sexual violence, we need their voices to be heard.