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The Link Between Anti-LGBTQIA+ Legislation and Gender-based Violence (GBV)

Nex Benedict's tragic death has garnered national attention and prompted vigils, raising urgent concerns about the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students. This is particularly concerning in light of recent legislative and political actions targeting LGBTQ+ individuals in Oklahoma and other states. While no single event should be required to underscore the importance of creating safe and inclusive environments for all students or communities, especially those from marginalized groups, the failure to do so increases the risk of gender-based violence.


What is gender-based violence (GBV)? Gender-based violence is a pervasive human rights violation rooted in gender inequality. It refers to violence directed at individuals or groups based on their gender identity or expression. GBV encompasses a wide range of harmful acts, including:


  • Physical violence: Assault, battery, murder, female genital mutilation

  • Sexual violence: Rape, sexual assault, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, human trafficking

  • Psychological violence: Intimidation, humiliation, threats, emotional abuse, controlling behaviors

  • Economic violence: Limiting access to resources, education, and employment


GBV disproportionately affects women and girls and LGBTQIA+ minority groups, but it can impact anyone regardless of their gender. It stems from harmful stereotypes and power imbalances that perpetuate discrimination and control.


Gender-based violence (GBV) is not random but rather a result of complex systemic and institutional conditions, including but not limited to power imbalances and inequalities, sociocultural norms, individual risk factors, and environmental factorsFocusing on Oklahoma, it is important to note:


The correlation between the adoption of discriminatory legislation and rhetoric, institutionalized oppression, and the resulting violence and tragedy experienced by vulnerable populations is undeniable. Anti-LGBTQIA+ fueled GBV is prevalent, and events are not isolated. Last year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a report titled "The Epidemic of Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in the United States."  


Trans and nonbinary people, particularly youth in school settings, have been enduring calculated, harmful anti-LGBTQIA+ political attacks for years. We are witnessing the devastating consequences of these actions. It's crucial to recognize that singular tragedies are a byproduct of systemic violence.

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