Supporting the LGBTQ+ in Schools

Supporting+the+LGBTQ%2B+in+Schools

During 2020 and 2021, there has been a lot of hostility around the world towards the LGBTQ+ community. According to the Human Rights Campaign, also known as HRC, there has been 44 fatalities in total against transgender and non-conforming people in the year of 2020. In the year of 2021, there have already been 48 LGBTQ+ members fatally injured or killed for being who they are. During these last years, there have been many victims of violence and other acts of discrimination. I, myself, can say that I have suffered a lot of discrimination, most of which is online. As a person under the transgender umbrella, as I identify as gender-fluid, I can say that seeing and experiencing a lot of oppression from others because I am apart of the LGBTQ+ community is very unsettling. Other reports of anti-transgender violence from 2015 to the present can also be found on the Human Rights Campaign. 

During the last few years, TikTok has become a very big social media app and it has become a safe space for many creators, both small and big. This app has also become a place to find a source of events, such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, politics, and much more. Many creators on the app have and still do share many events of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and have made actions to stop the hostility towards the community. These actions have included creating petitions and/or GoFundMe’s in order to support the victim and the victim’s family. They’ve also held the people accountable for their horrible decision and reached out to their schools or jobs informing them of the oppressor’s actions.

In order to start being inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, people have started to educate themselves on the different sexualities and gender identities. They’ve also started to include their pronouns in their profile bio’s in order to make people feel comfortable with how they identify themselves. This gives us the idea that they support and accept who we want to identify as. Simple research and small inclusive things can make a difference to the world. 

 

How to make the LGBTQ+ community feel safe in school? 

As we transition back into in-person schooling, Worcester Public Schools, also known as WPS, have been making sure to make actions on how to be inclusive of other people’s identities and sexualities. As a start, they started by making sure everyone respects and knows each other’s pronouns. Although it is a small start, it is still a good way to make sure everyone feels comfortable. This also advises people how a person wants to be called.  

A big representative of the LGBTQ+ community at North High is our senior class vice president, Lucas Thai, also known as Kyo. They are nonbinary who goes by they/them pronouns. A nonbinary person is someone who doesn’t identify with any gender. They don’t identify as male nor female, they are outside the gender binary. I have looked up to them for a pretty long time as an inspiration towards the LGBTQ+ because they’ve experienced many things in order to find themselves. They’ve gone through so many styles, they’ve experimented with different pronouns and gender identities, and they are still exploring themself as a nonbinary person today. It is very heartwarming and beautiful to see a person grow to know their true self and inspire others to find themselves, too.  

Simply educating yourself can help to make a safe space at school for the LGBTQ. Taking the time to research the different gender identities and sexualities can show that you are a supporter. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, language or slang is always changing, so attempting to keep up with that is a sign of support and acceptance. Learning the language can be a bit hard as it is constantly changing. I can’t even keep up with it sometimes. Making sure that you know just enough in order to pass down the information to others can be enough help. 

Also, in educating yourself, you must know the negatives, as well; the slurs that people use against us (to stop/prevent people from saying them) or even the ideas that others may have about us. For example, there is a frequent discussion of heteronormativity, the idea where being heterosexual or straight is the normal or as some people have been saying, the “default.” Even knowing the derogatory terms is important to know because it will help to know what not to say. Educating yourself in slurs will help in preventing others from saying it as well as stopping yourself. 

As high school and middle school is a period of extreme change, you can tell that many teenagers will be exploring and finding themselves over the years. I, myself, can say that sometimes it can take years to finally know who you are and sometimes you can still be finding yourself beyond high school. 

 

Lack of LGBTQ+ support in schools

Of course there will always be people who think differently of us and sometimes there is no changing them, but it is always good to influence more and more people around the world in order to create a much safer environment for us. That domino effect can always influence at least one more person and all that we ask for is your support and welcome. 

According to Healthline, there has been about 52% of LGBTQ+ students who’ve reported bullying in person and online. Unfortunately, bullying can lead to many other things like depression and suicide. For the LGBTQ+ students who were bullied, there was 29% of them in middle school who attempted suicide and 25% of LGBTQ+ high schoolers. Creating a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community would prevent and even decrease the chances of bullying. 

The GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, teachers tend to intervene in bullying related to race, religion, and ability more than bullying related to sexuality and gender-identity. There is a 10% difference between intervention in bullying from racist remarks (60.6%) to homophobic remarks (50.3%). Of course the lack of support can come from many things, such as beliefs and perceptions of the LGBTQ. Lack of support can also stem from lack of training. 

Teachers are trained to intervene in bullying of all kinds and not to discriminate, but they are not trained in the specific groups and how to be inclusive of each group in order to prevent more bullying and to have a safer and happier environment. They are almost never trained to use inclusive language to make us feel safe. Examples of inclusive language can be a teacher showing a video of a person who is seen as feminine and uses they/them pronouns and says “the person” instead of “the girl.” This shows support of different gender identities no matter how you represent yourself. 

In class I asked two students about bullying at school. “What kind of bullying have you heard more; bullying someone for being gay or bullying someone for something else?” I asked. “I’ve heard homophobic remarks more.” Chrislande told me. Another student, Ashlie Coriano, told me that they heard more of gay bullying than any other bullying in school. 

 

In order to make school safe for all kinds of students, we must make sure to take action, even if it starts with the little things. Not only would it help to influence the world, but it would make everyone feel as if they can be their true self instead of hiding in the closet they long to get out of. Although Worcester is a very diverse city, it is still unsettling to see that there are still people who are extremely rude to others or don’t accept people for who they are. A small message for the LGBTQ+ community, be who you are and love who you want. You are you.