In the United States, 19.6% of hate crimes are based on sexual orientation. Nearly 9 million people in the United States are being discriminated against or targeted for being homosexual. According to Annual Hate Crimes, “We are all the same underneath the skin.” It’s time to start accepting people as they are. There needs to be a worldwide change. People do not deserve to be hated for who they are. They also do not deserve being harassed for it.

Seventy-five percent of students in the LGBT community have no state-law protection against discrimination based on their sexual orientation. 97% of students regularly hear and report homophobic remarks from their peers. This means that these students are being harassed nearly every day. Students who want to come and get an education are being harshly judged for being who they are. What is the big difference between gay people vs. straight people?

It is not relevant to others who another loves, who your child or friend loves? When asked how she felt, Olivia, a sophomore from Shaker High School, indicated that “I feel like everyone should be accepted for who they are, no matter if they love a girl or boy. We are all human.” In one study, 26% of gay teens who have come out to their parents were told that they had to leave home. Although we do have laws that protect citizens from hate-related crimes, many people in society won’t follow those laws.

All humans are supposed to be equal because we breathe the same air, we live on the same planet and we are all alike in many ways. Many people use religion as an excuse for not accepting gay marriage, but those same religions preach acceptance, tolerance, and love. None of them encourage passing judgment on others.

From 1991 to 2011, The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy denied people in the LGBT community serving in the military the right to speak about their sexual orientation. 20 years later, it was repealed by an Act of Congress. But citizens who had been dedicating their lives in service of their country could not even be open with who they were to others. Seem fair? Olivia, a sophomore from Shaker High School responded to this, “I think it’s ridiculous that our men and women are living their lives on battle fields and in tanks, scared to ever see their loved one again couldn’t be allowed the right to show pride for who they love, who they are.” It’s honestly not difficult to accept someone for who they are. We as human beings, knowing what’s it’s like to feel left out, judged, or hurt, should not judge or think it’s okay to personally attack someone for who they are.

All around us there are brutal hate-crimes taking place. Potok reports: “More than 250,000 Americans over the age of 12 are victimized every year by hate criminals.” According to a new government study that puts the number some 50,000 higher than the best earlier analyses. At the same time, the study found that in recent years only about one in three hate crimes are ever reported to law enforcement officials.

However, on Tuesday September 23, 2014, in Philadelphia, two men in a gay relationship were confronted by a group of 12 people, both men and women, who were making nasty remarks about their relationship, according to the Huffington Post (Nichols, 1). What started as a small argument turned into a brutal attack, leaving one of the men in the hospital with a stitched-up jaw. Is this the way our people are now? Brutally attacking people out of pure hatred?  “I can’t believe hate-crimes are still around today. It really makes you think about all hatred we have in the world, let alone America,” said Katie Paone, a sophomore at Hudson Valley Community College.

We can all make a difference. This is a problem that needs to be resolved, and it won’t happen unless we all use our voices as one and start having acceptance for all.