Over the last century, our society has made major improvements when it comes to social issues, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a long way to go. In the 21st century, we’re faced with social issues that millennials in particular are working to fix. While all generations are contributing to help solve these issues, millennials have the energy, passion and motivation leading the way in making our world a better place. Here are 7 social issues that millennials are taking initiative to solve.
1. Gender Identity
Gender identity has been one of the most prominent social issues in recent years. More and more people are having the courage to assert a non-traditional gender identity—which can open them up to hate speech, assault, and other attacks. Transgender, gender fluid, androgynous, and other gender identities tend to have more acceptance in the millennial community, with half of those surveyed by Fusion agreeing that gender isn’t limited to male or female. Many millennials are working to help support those with non-traditional gender identities cope by speaking up about their feelings online, supporting legislation that protects transgender rights, and normalizing non-binary gender through their speech and actions.
2. Gay Marriage
Marriage equality has been a long-fought battle, and in 2015, the Supreme Court finally handed down a decision in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states. Millennials’ acceptance of same-sex marriage has been a major driving force in bringing this legislation to the forefront of politics, with 73% of Millennials interviewed by Pew in 2015 expressing their approval of gay marriage. Concerns over a shifting government might mean millennials have to work harder, attending rallies and writing to lawmakers to fight harder to preserve the Supreme Court decision and protect marriages around the country.
3. LGBT Adoption Rights
Though many LGBT couples are highly qualified to become parents, there are no federal protections assuring equal opportunity to adopt. State laws vary on the issue, and a few states have active restrictions on LGBT adoptions. Aside from variations in state laws, agencies and birth parents often discriminate against same-sex couples, which can make the struggle to legally adopt and ensure the child is with the couple permanently very difficult. By normalizing LGBT parenting and promoting legislation to protect families, millennials are helping to ensure that prospective adopters are evaluated equally.
4. Food Deserts
A food desert is an area where people live that does not have adequate, convenient access to a grocery store, farmer’s market, or other source of fresh, nutritious food. Unfortunately, people in food deserts have greater access to fast food than they do to healthy options. Fast food is 2.5 times more plentiful in food desert areas, which contributes to obesity and poor health of residents. Millennials active in social change are working to help everyone gain access to nutritious food by volunteering for educational programs to help people learn about buying and preparing healthy food, and working to improve programs that increase access and educate residents on nutrition.
5. Gender Workplace Diversity
Despite overwhelming evidence that having a diverse workforce is beneficial to businesses in nearly all industries, many workplaces are still dominated by straight men, especially in the STEM fields, executive positions, and politics. 98 countries have more women in government than the United States, and the ratio doesn’t seem to be improving. Millennials who are moving into hiring roles have an opportunity to introduce more gender diversity and move cultural norms toward a more equal system. Young women in STEM fields are also helping to promote diversity by working with girls to learn skills like coding and math, acting as role models for girls who might not feel welcomed in male-dominated fields as they move through college.
6. Women in Combat
Though many of the restrictions on women in combat roles has been lifted, allowing for more equality and opportunity for advancement within the military, this social issue isn’t quite resolved yet. Some leaders in the military have the freedom to exclude qualified women from certain missions, and President Obama has expressed the opinion that there’s still a long way to go, culturally and logistically. As millennials begin to take over more roles in the military, they’ll have the opportunity to change the military culture—and the role of women—forever.
7. Religious Freedom Act
A divisive piece of legislation that’s swept through many of the states, the Religious Freedom Act has many millennials worried, since its language allows people to refuse service on religious grounds. Since it came into law, many people have used the law as an excuse for discrimination, undermining progress on social issues and equality. Millennial voices have spoken out against these laws in huge numbers, prompting lawmakers to look more closely at this legislation, and prompting backlash against those who use the Act to discriminate.
|||^||The Guardian: The gender-fluid generation: young people on being male, female, or non-binary|
|||^||Boston Globe: Most young Americans overwhelmingly support gay marriage|
|||^||Frontera: 98 Countries Have a Higher Percentage of Women in Parliament Than the U.S.|
|||^||Military.com: Women in Combat Still a Work in Progress: Obama|