First, some background on myself. I was born in California, however my family moved to Idaho when I was only six months old. I lived in Idaho until I was twelve, when my family moved to Utah, and I have been there to this day. I am the oldest of seven children and am currently eighteen. I was born and raised a Mormon, however I am a self-professed atheist and will withdraw my name from Mormon records once I move out of my parent's house. My looks take after my mother, but my beliefs and opinions are nearly 180 degrees from both my parents, who are very religious and conservative.
As a diverse individual, I enjoy a large variety of tasks and hobbies. I am an avid student; I am taking four AP and three IB courses, in addition to one "regular" class and several online courses. As a result, some may say I have no life, but I am a Red Cross Certified Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor and work 20+ hours a week at the Clearfield Aquatic Center. In addition, I have an amazing girlfriend and a group of very close friends that I hang out with on a regular basis. My hobbies include: computer programming; reading books, random Wikipedia articles, and XKCD; playing and studying Magic: The Gathering; hanging out with friends; gaming (specifically Portal 2 and Starcraft 2); etc. etc. etc.
As mentioned above, I'm eighteen and taking AP and IB courses. This implies, as is true, that I am a senior in high school. My favorite courses are the maths and sciences. I have been accepted to both Utah State University and the University of Utah and will be attending the latter. I desire a PhD in Biochemistry with an emphasis in Genetic Modification from MIT. I wish to use my training to work in drug development and further the field of biochemistry as a whole.
I am also heavily involved in the Boy Scouts of America program and am an Eagle Scout. I am currently registering to teach the Swimming, Lifesaving, and Canoeing Merit Badges and assist in teaching them at my work now. As part if this program, I have preformed endless hours of service for my community.
Yet despite my intelligence, diversity, and ambition (oh, and humility), I am still oppressed.
As a member of a minority, I feel that my rights and voice are overlooked and silenced, both legally and socially. As a liberal atheist, my rights are often harmed by legislation: laws dictating that teachers can't discuss politics with me unless its part of the class curiculum (most teachers are liberal, so this is a step by a conservative Utah legislative body to inhibit Democrats) and I cannot discuss politics with my coworkers without their consent (I work for a city government, since most city employees in Utah are conservative, I'm limited to debating politics with other liberal employees (which isn't a very large number)). Socially, the list of oppression is quite a bit longer:
As my high school years progressed, I began to more intimately study the "Standard Works" of the Mormon Church, as well as being exposed to a world larger than my parents sphere of influence. Throughout my studies and living of life, I came to my own conclusion that there is no God and derived my own set of moral principles. There was no direct outside influence, minimal consulting with my peers and family, and no adults molding me during this decision making process. However, I continued living as a Mormon for another year because social pressures instilled a fear of being different within me. My 2013 New Year's Resolution was to break the news to my parents, which I did on the very first Sunday of the new year.
My parents were heartbroken and told my Bishop, who took me off various religious councils (thank goodness), which led other memebers of my Ward to question what was "really going on with me". Everyone's suspicions were put to rest when my little brother got up on the pulpit one Sunday session and told the entire congregation: "and I know that Alex still has a testimony and believes in the Gospel". Ever since that day, I've been looked down on, talked awkwardly to, and interviewed constantly by literally dozens of church members. I was once even slugged hard in the gut by my Quorum Leader for not showing up to mutual. Soon, I was rejected from activities, left uninvitied to parties by neighbors, and constantly harrassed by high-end church officials. Some of my friends, namely those in my ward, disagree with my beliefs, both religiously and politically, and often choose to ignore our differences as if they didn't exist or help compose who I am. They often call my behavior a part of a "rebellious" segment of my life that will soon fade.
The worst source of oppression, however, is my family. My parents force me to participate in religious activities despite the fact that I feel uncomfortable at them and that they're a waste of my time. They've threatened to kick me out of the house if I quit attending church (I'm eighteen, so they can do that). I've been told explicitally that I'm not entitled to share my political or religious opinions in the house. I've been lied to and had privelages taken away, and the list continues.
Both my religious and political views have been declared unnatural, radical, insane, unreasonable, and wrong by people all around me.
Yet despite this long story of the discrimination against me, I know there are others far worse off than myself. People who are actively attacked, bullied, and rejected for their beliefs. These people include, but are not limited to: gays, lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuals, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and many more. I was a silent voice for over a year, and I suffered dearly for it. But now I choose to stand up for myself and my beliefs and encourage all to do the same. Don not be lulled into believing that because you're part of a minority, you are powerless Wrongs can't be righted until a voice recognizes the wrong as wrong. That voice is yours, the time to let it be heard is now. Let the Voice of the Minority be heard!