So lately I’ve noticed around my high school, there seems to be alot of direct and indirect homophobia and transphobia. (Examples- when im walking down the halls homophobic slurs being made, people using the words gay/queer in a negative context, students referring to someone who is transgendered by their birth name/ gender ignorantly and the list goes on). Now to me, being both a member of the LGBT community and an open minded person this does not seem morally right and neither is it very comfortable at times. I guess my question is how can I stop this? What do I say to these people in the moment that will help them understand the severity of what their doing?
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The most important thing to remember is that you, and everybody, has the right to feel safe and respected in school. It is right to treat everyone with dignity and respect, something you know is so right you have the courage to stand up for it.
It can help to simply ask people why they are saying these things. What makes them say this? Ask them to put themselves in the shoes of other people, of someone who is gay, for example, or someone who is trans, and how they would feel in that situation.
There is also strength in numbers. Ask your friends if they’ve also noticed this, and brainstorm ways to address it. Do you have some teachers you respect? Ask them the same thing, and what they think would help. Get some friends and talk with the school administration and ask them what they feel about it, and if they think this reflects positively on their pupils. Perhaps it would help to start a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) at your school. Both GLSEN at www.glsen.org and the GSA Network at www.gsanetwork.org have some wonderful resources for addressing homophobia and transphobia in schools. The Trevor Project also has a lot of resources listed at www.thetrevorproject.org/trevorresources including educator resources you can provide to teachers and administrators at your school and information about the Survival Kit, which includes the movie “Trevor” along with resources to open up discussions with all students about how language and behavior can affect the way an individual feels about themselves.
You’ve taken a great first step in making your school a better place for all students, and it’s a great thing you are doing.