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We Are All the Same

by Christina is human 3 years ago in lgbtq

LGTBQ+ Issues: Class Is in Session

Photo Credit to @troyesivan on instagram/twitter

Did you know that according to a study done by GLSEN in 2015 57.6% of LGBTQ+ students in grade 6-12 said that they don’t feel safe at school? What’s even more shocking is that over half of these students are in middle school! Some feel unsafe to the point that they skip one or more days of school. Imagine feeling so unsafe in school that you skip multiple days. No, you're not skipping school because you want to, or it bores you, you are skipping school because you are afraid. Afraid that you will be hurt or harassed by your peers. This is the harsh reality for many LGBTQ+ students.

Sure, times have changed, people are more accepting and its not as uncommon for someone to come out young but schools are still a horrible place for students of the LGBTQ+ community. People insulting others by calling them gay or saying something is boring by calling it gay is very common in today’s society. Walking down the halls, or sitting in the lunchroom, I can almost guarantee that you have heard this once before, or even said it yourself. People forget, boring isn't a synonym for gay, happy is. Now you might be thinking, well, I can do it because I don't know anyone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community. Well do you know at least 5 people? Then chances are you do, according to a study conducted by GLAAD, 1 in 5 people under the age of 35 identify as some part of the LGBTQ+ community. To show you, there are about 23 students in this room including myself, so let's just say 20. Hypothetically speaking 4 of us would identify as some part of the LGBTQ+ community. Now think about this, there are hundreds of students in our school. Whenever you are in the hallways, there are normally over 5 people, so be careful what you say. Why are calling something or someone that you don't like happy in the first place?

Not only do some students call things gay as an insult, 9 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students have reported being harassed directly by one or more of their peers. Though, over half of the students that reported this said nothing was done to handle the situation. This harassment has a major impact on not only the student’s grades but their mental health as well. Studies show students who are harassed or bullied have significantly lower test scores than those of their peers, but why? Well, tests, quizzes and basically any other assignment can be extremely stressful right? Imagine that plus the stress of the possibility that once you leave that classroom, you could be harassed, whether this is verbally or physically. There is also the anxiety caused by the possible response of family or friends. Normally when someone comes out they are either accepted or rejected, but most don't know what their family and friends will do, this can cause anxiety. Between the mix of not knowing how people will react, being harassed or bullied at school, and the normal stress of school, these students are under extreme pressure.

When at school, these students in most cases have little to no resources or representation. Sure, there can be the occasional mention of a gay artist or writer, but no one talks about other labels like asexual or pansexual. This causes confusion among LGBTQ+ students and their peers. There are hundreds of different labels, which is why we say LGBTQ+. This can also be said as LGBTQIA+. This stands for Lesbian, gay, bisexual, Trans*, queer, intersex, and asexual. That’s a lot, I know. Let's break it down: someone who is a lesbian is a female that is attracted to females. Someone who is gay is a person who likes someone of the same gender. Someone who is bisexual likes someone who is the same gender as them or someone who is a gender that isn't the same as them. Someone who is trans* doesn't identify as the gender they were given when they were born. This can mean that they are male, female, or anything in between, such as non-binary or gender-fluid. Someone who is queer can be questioning or just prefer this as a label. Someone who is intersex is born with a body that doesn't fit into the binary of male or female, this could be because of hormones or body parts. Lastly, someone who is asexual does not feel any sexual attraction at all. Though there are many other sexualities and gender identities, one of the most common issues in schools are people joking about their gender being an inanimate object such as a pencil. This is a major issue because it not only can offend someone who identifies as something other than a male or female, but it can make them feel invalid, and can cause people to think that they are just kidding around when they come out.

Though it may not change how their peers react, there are some things that schools can do to help these students and relieve some of their stress, such as, create an inclusive curriculum. Teach us that they/them pronouns can be used for one person who doesn't identify as male or female. Teach us that Leonardo da Vinci was openly gay, or that Shakespeare had a tendency to write love letters to men. Protect us, when someone is using gay as an insult, when you hear it, say something, when we are bullied and we tell you, don't just stand there. Respect us, when we tell you our pronouns, use them, if we correct you, don't snap at us, just try to use the proper pronouns. We are all human, do we really deserve to be punished for who we are? We are all looking for one thing, happiness.


Christina is human

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