Are YOU Safe?
High school can be difficult for any struggling teen, but LGBT youth face many additional obstacles of harassment, bullying, and violence. Events of bullying occur everyday in high schools around the nation some of which including members of the LGBT community. LGBT youth also report more bullying, unexcused absences from school due to the bullying, drug use, feelings of depression, and even suicidal behaviors. This is not only true for students that have come out but also for students who are questioning their sexual orientation, for their friends are ignorant towards what they say to that person who is unsure of their sexuality.
“I don’t really believe that LGBT youth are really safe in schools, at least not as safe as people are lead to believe. I know around 10 LGBT teens that are out at this school and have been bullied on many occasions because of people’s’ misconception of it. Leading to most of them at some point being suicidal because of the bullying from their peers. Plus on a daily basis I hear derogatory language such as ‘faggot’ and ‘dyke’ multiple times, making me fear for my own safety at this school,” said Laney Arreola (‘20).
LGBT youth feel they have nowhere to turn. In fact according to a study conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 86% of LGBT youth reported being harassed at school, in 2007. Consider all of the incidents that go unreported annually now. Displays of violence in a school environment have negative effects on the education and health of any young minded person. However, a national study of both middle and high school students showed that out of LGBT students, about 61.1% felt unsafe or uncomfortable as a result of bullying.
“The only people I know in the LGBT community were at one point suicidal but now they have come to terms with the fact that bullying and name calling will always be a occurrence in their lives,” said Andre Rivera (‘20).
For any young teens to thrive in their communities and in schools, they will need to feel socially, physically, and emotionally supported and safe. Positive environments for young students have been proven to lower percentages of students struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, substance use such as drugs or alcohol, and also unexcused absences and tardies. Schools that don’t possess a positive environment can gain them by implementing clear policies, activities, and procedures made to promote a more healthy environment for their students LGBT associated or not. Examples of these activities are thing such as forming a gay-straight alliance group or even by identifying safe places for students, like a counselor’s office or classroom.
“I do think that in some school communities, like Brighton High School, most LGBT youth students are safe, well at least safer than they would be in some other communities where LGBT people are not accepted. I know many LGBT youth members that have felt threatened in their school communities, so much so that they have had to change schools. I wouldn’t say that I have been physically harassed because of people’s views on my sexual orientation but I have definitely been called names because of it,” said Tay Faczak (‘18).
LGBT teens all around the world are faced with bullying from their peers every day. Even with schools promising that bullies will not be tolerated; that promise is never held out. Bullying has always been a part of society and it seems like there will be for a long time to come. The only thing a community can do is reduce the tolerance of it.