Everyone knows Britney Spears. She’s been a household name for decades famous for her unique voice and songs that are popular among all age groups. Her life in the spotlight seemed glamorous at first, but after many breakdowns, the public has been able to see the struggles behind closed doors. Many times, she has tried to speak up about her mental health issues, but was never truly heard. Now, it’s fortunate that she’s able to finally reveal the seriousness of her situation.
Britney started dance lessons at age three and singing at age five. Soon after, she starred in her first show, The Mickey Mouse Club. Her parents were strong supporters of her career and pushed her to start early. At seventeen, she became one of the biggest pop stars with her song Baby One More Time. With her rising fame, however, came many issues. She struggled with a lack of control of her life, drug abuse, anxiety, and depression. One famous instance was when she shaved her head in 2007 - many didn’t realize this was a serious cry for help. Additionally, because she wasn’t able to speak out and receive the help and support that she needed, she lost custody of her two sons. She was criticized for almost every interaction she had with her kids ranging from driving with them to holding them in public. After the loss of the custody battle, she spiraled deeper into her drug abuse and was ultimately sent to a psychiatric ward. Because she was deemed mentally unstable and unable to take of herself, the court placed her under a conservatorship led by her father. After thirteen years, she’s still under the conservatorship.
Conservatorship is a term that represents a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for themselves or manage their finances. In many cases, this law is helpful for those who genuinely need assistance in managing their lives due to mental health or other issues. Britney’s case, however, is an example of how it can go wrong and be taken advantage of. In her recent court statements, she details her lack of power over her own life. She states she was drugged, was not allowed to have children, and was forced to perform to make money. She says that all she wants in life is to get married, have children and be happy.
Britney is a perfect example of the psychological consequences fame can have, especially childhood fame. Many childhood actors and actresses later abuse drugs and have serious mental health issues in their early adult lives. They report feeling isolated from their peers because they didn’t go grow up the same way. They feel lonely because they often don’t have strong support systems such as friends or family to confide in. Also, they are taught from a young age that performing is the only way they could receive love and admiration. This alters how they view interpersonal relationships and is often why relationships don’t work out for these individuals. They are exposed to drugs and sex at a young age and are forced to grow up quickly (Behrens-Horrell, 2011). When researchers evaluated the success of childhood stars, they found that the ones who grew up unscathed (i.e. Leo DiCaprio, Scarlett Johansson, etc.) all had one thing in common. They had family and friends who supported them and didn’t push them to perform. They grew up happy because they were able to receive unconditional love, something Britney has never received. This year, Britney turns forty and is fighting to end her conservatorship. Let’s give her the freedom she deserves.
Behrens-Horrell, W. (2011). The child performer. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-trenches/201106/the-child-performer
Connection with another person is something everyone strives for when looking for love. What people don’t strive for is the potential violence that comes with it. There are three types of dating violence: emotional, physical, and mental abuse. Unfortunately, it is growing to be more of a common issue amongst the youth of the LGBTQ+ community. Research conducted by Semprevivo (2021) show that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience dating violence in comparison to heterosexual youth. There are a lot of things that the LGBTQ+ community have to deal with in comparison to the cisgender population, and a lot of it mainly has to do with their gender/ sexual identity. This community just recently started becoming more recognized, but our generation still has to combat all of the ugly societal issues that revolve around the LGBTQ+ community previous generations could not successfully overcome.
Smollin (2014) mentions how queer relationships are ‘“the same… but different”’ from their cisgender, heterosexual peers (p. 3). I could not agree more. They are the same because of the fact that there is a relationship forming between two people, but the difference comes from the societal issues that both relationships face. Every type of relationship can have physical, emotional, verbal, and mental abuse. However, heterosexist and HIV-related abuse are more likely to happen in relationships in the LGBTQ+ community. Heterosexist abuse involves threatening to “out” someone when they are clearly not ready to some out (Martinez, 2015). HIV-related abuse is when someone gets in the way of a person with HIV when it comes to their medical treatments (Martinez, 2015). What Smollin (2014) said also relates to issues surrounding dating violence in both relationships because she mentions how social location, minority stress, and the developmental tasks of adolescence influence the LGBTQ+ relationship. The intersectionality theory comes into play in regard to these differences because it highlights the more specific issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community in comparison to the heterosexual community.
It is important to bring awareness to dating violence within the LGBTQ+ community because of how little research is done on it. Do not get me wrong, heterosexual relationships also matter, but there is more than enough research conducted within heterosexual relationships in comparison to that of an LGBTQ+ relationship. Even now when doing research on dating violence amongst the LGBTQ+ community, it was mentioned a multitude of times that not enough research has been done in this growing societal issue. There are many youths that can benefit from more research being done on this topic. Some may argue that dating violence is the same in all relationships, but let us remind ourselves of what Smollin (2014) has previously mentioned, LGBTQ+ relationships are “the same.. but different” (p. 3). Even being able to acknowledge that something as small (but also as big) of a concept as that can make the most impact to this community.
Martinez, G., & Gomez, E. A. (2015). Teen Dating Violence in the LGBTQ Community. Aug 2015.
Smollin, Leandra M. (2014). Queer adolescent perceptions of romantic relationships and dating violence: Building an integrative framework for LGBTQ violence research. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Semprevivo, Lindsay K. (2021). Dating and sexual violence victimization among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth: Considering the importance of gender and sexual orientation. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 30(5), 662–678.
Today’s LGBTQ workforce has undergone a critical shift in what they demand from organizations. The expectation of workplace inclusion can be seen in how diverse today’s workforce is, especially among the younger generations. Not all organizations are using best practices, however. Many individuals continually experience barriers due to prejudice and discrimination both in the application process and during work. Raising awareness is the first step in creating an inclusive work culture.
Studies show that having diverse teams can help drive innovation and critical thinking when dealing with difficult tasks. And it’s true - people work better when they hear from different perspectives. Each team member brings unique insights from their own experiences to collaborate in a creative way. What LGBTQ workers bring to the job is their resilience, courage, and strong leadership styles. They can empathize with those who struggle from a hostile work environment, and strive to include all employees when they’re in management positions. Each and every organization can benefit from having a diverse and inclusive team.
The main problems that LGBTQ workers face are discrimination and a lack of job security. Many are at a disadvantage when applying for jobs because implicit bias can play a big role in the decisions of the hiring managers. Currently, there are no federal laws that protect LGBTQ workers when they’re faced with prejudice and microaggressions. And this happens quite often - more than 40% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, and almost 90% of transgender persons have experienced discrimination in the workplace, harassment, or mistreatment by co-workers and managers. The Supreme Court ruling that passed last year should, in theory, be a huge step in the right direction. There, however, are still many gaps that need to be addressed with the new ruling. These include a lack of health benefits, enforcement of dress codes, and the lack of appropriate bathrooms. These microaggressions are more subtle yet as devastating as explicit discrimination.
Fortunately, there are a number of things leaders can do to make their organizations more LGBTQ-inclusive. First, they must bring awareness to queerness and why it’s important to be authentic. They should listen and take action when employees speak out about issues of discrimination and prejudice. There should also be support systems in place for those who may be feeling isolated such as an HR team that’s dedicated to addressing these types of issues. Diversity and inclusion should always be included in the mission of the organization so that the concept is deeply embedded into the culture and working style of each individual employee.
Graves, L. (2018). Issue at a glance: LGBTQ employment discrimination. Victory Institute. Retrieved from https://victoryinstitute.org/issue-at-a-glance-lgbtq-employment-discrimination/
Levesley, D. (2020). 8 steps leaders can make to make their workplace more LGBTQ-inclusive. The Muse. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/steps-leaders-can-take-make-workplaces-more-lgbtq-inclusive
The Associated Press. (2020). Even with ruling, workplace still unequal for LGBTQ workers. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/even-ruling-workplace-still-unequal-lgbtq-workers-n1231419