LAWRENCE — When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal, it was a major victory for generations who fought to achieve equality. However, the decision was far from the end of oppression for the LGBTQ community, especially queer and transgender youths in rural areas. A University of Kansas
Marriage equality measures have primarily benefited white, gay, economically secure individuals. Young people still establishing themselves and those of other races or transgender individuals still face unique challenges.
Approached by an organization that lobbies for LGBTQ youths in rural America, Gandy-Guedes created a survey, then approached
“They wanted to know what were the motivations for this young group to get active, so we did a survey to see what issues they cared about most,” Gandy-Guedes said. “To find that out we asked them about what social, environmental and justice issues were most important to them. Second, we asked them what motivated them to take part in activism around those issues.”
The respondents listed several motivations:
Helping others and reducing discrimination for future generations were the top concerns. Many respondents
The authors also asked participants what types of activism they had taken part in or would consider. Examples included door-to-door canvassing, posting on social media, speaking with the media, contacting elected officials or getting arrested for civil disobedience. The researchers set scores for the most passive actions to the most personally risky, such as getting arrested. Lived equality for transgender individuals had the highest score of issues respondents will fight for.
“Thinking about this post-marriage equality, and that issue being mostly white and mainstream, it doesn’t focus on the needs of these young people,”
Because studies about LGBTQ activism have largely focused on adults in more urban settings, the researchers wanted to collect views from a population whose day-to-day experiences are very different.
“It was important to both of us to present challenges unique to people in rural areas. If you look at any map of challenges for LGBTQ populations, the worst are always in the rural states,” Gandy-Guedes said.
Young people will also be the ones who largely shape future activism. Understanding the work they’re doing and what motivates them to take action will also help inform future research.
“This is the age group of current and future leaders, and understanding
Top right photo: Megan Paceley, KU assistant professor.
Bottom right photo: Credit Pexels.com.