Hi, I’m Xia. I’m straight, but I’m really really worried for a friend of mine who just came out as a lesbian. I’ve been supportive, and I’m really really happy for her, but we go to a really really conservative christian school. The other day, one of my teachers called something “faggy” and I got pretty upset. I told my parents about it and they started yelling at me- my mom started asking me when I started thinking gay marraige would ever be okay. They’re now thinking I’m a lesbian . Also, schools getting difficult- After the teacher episode, people are starting to call me “the gay boy” Because I’m really into musicals and broadway, also because I support gay people. I just really want all of this to stop, but most of all, I want my friend to feel comfortable and happy in school again. She hasn’t come out to anybody but me (her family is very unaccepting) and I can tell it hurts her a lot.
Thanks a ton, Xia.
I’m so glad you wrote to The Trevor Project. It’s clear from your letter that you are a very sensible, and caring person. Your friend is very lucky that she has you on her side. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for others who are being bullied, especially when it means some of that bullying is going to come your way.
So much of the hate that young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people experience comes from ignorance and fear. Sadly some people use the church’s doctrines to justify this hate. I can imagine how hard it this is for you and your friend, standing up to this stuff in your school. You have to know that you are the brave ones, the bullies are acting out of ignorance and probably their fears too. Difference is frightening to people and they often lash out at it, because they don’t understand it.
You have to know that you and your friend have the right to feel safe at school. No one, not another student or a teachers has the right to bully you or make you or your friend feel unsafe. So you need to find an adult who you trust and who you can tell about the bullying. This might be the principle or a school councillor or administrator. It is their job to make sure you feel safe and are not bullied at school.
There are a number of organizations that work specifically in schools to address homophobia and transphobia against LGBT students. One such organization is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which works to ensure safe schools for ALL students. On their website at www.glsen.org click on “what we do” where you can find programs which may help people in your school become more understanding and supportive of your friend. One program is called “A Day of Silence” which brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Each year, the event has grown, now with hundreds of thousands of students coming together to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. Another program is the No Name-Calling Week which is a week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to foster a dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities. On GLSEN’s website, there are also links to articles and blogs where you can learn how students at other schools are educating each other on the subject of intolerance. GLSEN also has information on how to start a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) which is a student club that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. It’s a place where students can come together, offer support to one another and help make your school a more accepting place. On http://www.gsanetwork.org/resources/start.html you can get information on how to start a GSA. You can call the GLSEN office in New York at 212-727-0135 as they may be able to help you or point you towards someone who can help you and your friend. Another resource that can be of help is The Trevor Project’s Lifeguard workshop program which contains the film “Trevor” to be used with the workshop guide to open up discussions with ALL students about how language and behavior can affect the way an individual feels about themselves. You can find these resources by going to The Trevor Project home page and clicking on “read more” under “parents and educators” or by calling The Trevor Project offices at 310-271-8845. If there is a school counselor or administrator at your school with whom you feel comfortable, you could talk with them about using these programs to help people become more understanding and accepting of you and other LGBT people.
Your wish to help your friend is really inspiring Xia, and hopefully with the resources I mentioned above, you can turn this experience into one which makes your school a safer and more tollerant place for everyone.
Good Luck and don’t hesitate to get in touch again if you need more help.
The Trevor Project