I’m 14 years old and have just found myself as bisexual. Well, maybe not just. I was curious for a long time. But I made my final decision with the help of my best friend who is also a homosexual on Christmas. (Also happens to be the girl I am currently in a relationship with.) She’s everything to me. She seems to be the only person that can crack a smile out of me anymore that isn’t fake. Because of her I’m 100 times more open about my sexuality than I would be without her. Because of her all my friends know who I am, and most of them have been extremely accepting, even the ones that once were homophobes. Almost the whole school knows there’s something about me, and unfortunately, the ones that don’t know what I’m like are extremely judgmental. My girlfriend and I are constantly verbally and physically bullied. I try not to care what other people think, and most of the time I don’t because I have someone right next to me going through the same thing. She’s really the best person I know, even if others don’t see it. There’s one big problem; my parents absolutely hate her. We used to be not-so-great friends at all and my mom thinks she’s not a good person. It doesn’t help that recently I left my Facebook open without me there and my mom went through all of our messages. So basically, not a month after I decided I was bisexual, my parents know. They are forever bugging me saying that they are disgusted with me. I’m grounded from a lot, including being able to shut my door, and not allowed to speak to my girlfriend (but they can’t stop us at school.) It puts a lot of stress on me. I’ve always been the responsible one, the “good girl”. They have no trust in me anymore, as if my sexuality changes my personality. They keep trying to change me and “save” me. My girlfriend is terrified they’re going to. What should I do about my parents? How can I get them to see that my girlfriend is someone I can seriously consider spending my life with? And how do I deal with the people at school that make fun of me? Is there any way I can tell the school guidance counselor without coming out to her?
I’m really glad that you wrote to Ask Trevor with your questions and concerns. I’m also glad to hear that you are in a relationship with someone who is so supportive of you and makes you a better person. In that regard, you are very lucky! When family members first learn that their child is LGBT, it can take them time to process this new information. Just like it took time for you to figure out your sexuality and become more comfortable coming out, they also need to deal with this in their own time. Once they understand you better, you may have an easier time telling your parents how much she means to you and how she is such a positive person in your life.
Your family may have many questions about your sexuality and may need time and help to become more understanding and supportive of you. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great organization, made up mostly of parents, which supports LGBTQ people and works to help parents and others to become more supportive and accepting of their loved one’s sexual orientation/gender identity. On their website at www.pflag.org click on “Get Support” then click on “For Family & Friends” where you’ll find the pamphlets “Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People” and “Frequently Asked Questions about GLBT People,” which, if you’re comfortable, you can share with your family members/friends to help them become more understanding and accepting of you. PFLAG also runs support groups where parents and others can discuss questions and concerns they have about a loved one’s sexual orientation and where LGBT people can discuss issues they’re having with people in their life. On their website, you can search for a chapter near you. If no chapter is near you or if your family members/friends won’t attend, you could still contact the nearest chapter and get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you. Other resources you might share with them are the books “Now That You Know – A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children” which addresses many issues and questions that arise for parents of gay and lesbian children and “Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together.” There are no guarantees but they may help.
With regard to the problems that you are facing with bullying at school, please know that you have the right to feel safe in your school and that no one ever has the right to bully or abuse you in any way. As far as how to deal with the bullying in your school, you could start by talking with an adult at school such as a the principal, school counselor or school administrator as it is their job to make sure you and others are not being harassed or bullied by students, teachers or anyone and that you feel safe in school, so if you feel comfortable, please bring it to their attention immediately. I know you asked about going to a school counselor without coming out to them, but it would be helpful for them to know why you are being targeted and their job is to provide you with support and advice without judging you.
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 you. 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. 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.
If you have any questions in the future please feel free to use Ask Trevor again or The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR, TrevorChat, or TrevorSpace. We are always here for you!