QUEER VOICES

Here's Why Conversations About Campus Sexual Assault Need To Include LGBT People

Survivor John Kelly explains the "roadblocks" facing queer victims.

Mainstream conversations about rape often fail to acknowledge sexual assaults that happen against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community. But John Kelly, a genderqueer activist and survivor of sexual assault, wants to remind everyone that rape does not discriminate against gender or sexual identities.

Kelly, a student at the Harvard Divinity School, opened up to HuffPost Live's Zerlina Maxwell last week about their -- Kelly's preferred pronoun -- experience reporting sexual assault to Tufts University, where they went for their undergraduate years. Kelly said they faced a lot of "roadblocks."

"I was told by administrators that it couldn't happen because it was between two male-bodied people," Kelly said. "I was told by an administrator that the real problem was not, sort of, the 'actions' that had happened but my drinking problem, because during my sexual assault I was incapacitated due to alcohol poisoning."

Kelly said that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are "absolutely" left out of conversations about sexual assault, despite high statistic rates for LGBTQ people who have been assaulted. Kelly explained that inherently "oppressive" systems like police enforcement and universities have deterred queer students from reporting.

"So there aren't necessarily those resources to go and receive help to try to achieve some form of justice or safety on your campus," Kelly said. "And so I think that's about administrators committing to doing this work, to being in these communities, to communicating with these students that they're there for them. That their identities are going to be respected and appreciated and loved and cherished, and that their experiences of violence are valid and need to work through what's going on there."

Watch the full segment on what we can do to respond to campus sexual assault, and click here to watch HuffPost Live's seven-part series on the epidemic. 

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