Hi my name is Olivia, I’m 13. I myself am not gay, but gay rights is something I’m very passionate about. Unfortuantly, the majorty of my classmates don’t all feel the same way. They use the “f” word all the time, and use the term gay as if it was some giant insult. I really try to talk to them about it, but they ignore me. It really and truly breaks my heart to hear them talk that way. Even the kids in my class who arn’t homophobic really just don’t seem to care. I really feel like I’m alone in this fight. I just want a way to try to share my point of view, and try to make them realize that their discrimination is wrong and hurtful. Is there anything I can do?
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Your maturity and compassion are inspiring. You know what’s right and you have a gift for self-expression—keep trying to get your classmates to understand just how hurtful their homophobic language is. However, if you get discouraged, remember your classmates are still very young and many may not be as emotionally and intellectually mature as you. They still have a lot of growing up to do and may not yet understand the impact of their words. In the meantime, take comfort in knowing you certainly not alone in this fight—on the contrary, you are part of a global movement for LGBT equality. If you take a look at the websites for organizations like GLAAD (www.glaad.org), the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org), and Freedom to Marry (www.freedomtomarry.org) (just to name a few), you’ll quickly get a sense of just how many allies you have. There’s a lot more to fight for, of course, and as a young person surrounded by casual classroom homophobia you’re out on the front lines. Hang in there—speak your mind, seek out your school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, and check out glsen.org. Stand up for gay kids to the extent you can without putting yourself in harm’s way. It may be hard to change your peers’ minds right away—but just by caring and making an effort you’ll make a world of difference for your LGBT peers.
It’s clear you’re a very empathetic person. Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself how much homophobic language hurts, even though you’re not gay. You deserve people to talk to and emotional support. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, remember you can always call 1-866-488-7386 and talk with a Trevor lifeline counselor about what you’re feeling and experiencing.
Good luck, and feel free to write back.