By Rebecca Damante, Contributor, New Century Foundation
Take a moment and count to the number forty-nine. Now imagine forty-nine people being targeted, in large part, because of how they identify or who they love. This is the narrative of the worst mass shooting in modern American history that took place in Orlando this past Saturday.
While many Americans have responded to this tragedy with calls for gun control, that’s only a piece of the issue at stake. Since January, more than 160 anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) bills have been brought to state legislatures. These include North Carolina’s contentious bathroom bill(HB2), and a Tennessee bill (HB 1840) that denies mental health services to LGBT people, who are more than two times as likely to struggle with a mental health disorder than heterosexuals.
Ensuring that these instances of anti-LGBT violence and discrimination do not continue to repeat themselves may require society to turn to one of its oldest tools: education. Reports from GLAAD have found that increased knowledge about LGBT people leads to lower levels of discomfort toward this community, and thus can reduce anti-LGBT discrimination.
Yet, there is a lack of education across the nation on this sector of the population, with only one state—California—mandating the implementation of LGBT figures and history into school curricula. Taking that into consideration, one can’t help but wonder: what would have happened if state lawmakers or the Orlando shooter had received more education about LGBT people?