As I was growing up, I always knew I was special and in my life I have found that Special was something to be proud of. I slowly experimented when I was young and learned what gay was around 11. I stayed in the closet for about 4 years but recently, in the last year, I have been waving my flag of pride and have become very passionate about pride, anti-harassment and equal rights in my school. I solely reestablished our schools GSA and have been helping kids ever since. My question to you guys however is, I know there are a lot of LBGT and Questioning students still out there that are in the closet or some that are even suicidal, Can you give me some advice on how to set them on their right paths and receive help from our GSA or guidance counseling? I’ve fought for not very long, but my passion can’t stand not being able to help. Good luck to you saving lives, and hope to hear back.
Let me commend you for being such a courageous and caring soul. It’s great that you are not only out and proud of you, but have also made it your mission to help your fellow LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) students. You are truly a special person.
Your frustration of feeling that you are not able to help them is completely understandable. It can be difficult when you see people struggling with important issues like having to hide who they are or feeling suicidal and not being sure how to help. I have some suggestions of how you can reach out to students who may be struggling with their sexuality as well as with those who are feeling suicidal.
If you know of someone who is suicidal, you could let them know how much you care about them and that you hope they won’t choose to end their life. You could remind them that depressed feelings do change over time and point out that death is final and once it’s chosen, can’t be changed. If someone tells you about a plan they have to kill themselves, this makes things even more serious and dangerous. It’s very important for their safety that you don’t keep their suicidal thoughts a secret and that you immediately tell a trusted adult, such as a parent, relative, teacher or school counselor about their thoughts of killing themselves so they can keep them safe and get them the help they need. Though they may ask you to promise not to tell anyone about their suicidal thoughts, it’s very important not to make any deals to keep this a secret as this could put their life in danger. You can always give them the number for the Trevor helpline (1-866-4-U-Trevor) where our counselors are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. People may feel suicidal when they’re feeling very sad and depressed, feel hopeless that things will ever get better in their life and feel trapped, like they have no choices or options to deal with their problems. Talking with one of our sensitive counselors can help them see choices they may not be aware of which could hopefully help them to feel better. Our counselors will also do whatever is needed to keep them safe.
As far as helping people who are who not ready or are having difficulty being open about their sexual orientation, remember that each person does this in their own time, when they feel safe and comfortable. There are some things that may be of help as they go through this process. You could let them know that your GSA is up and running. If your school allows, maybe you could put up posters or put something in the school newspaper about when the GSA meets and what its purpose is. If there is a teacher or school counselor who is LGBT friendly and supportive, having them put a “pride” sticker or something related to being LGBT in their office or classroom could help students know that there’s someone on staff who can be a support to them. If there is a supportive staff member, you could have them order a Trevor Survival Kit, which includes a DVD of the Academy Award-winning film “Trevor”, a companion teaching guide to be used to open up discussions with ALL students about being LGBTQ, how language and behavior can affect the way someone feels, recognizing signs and symptoms of depression and suicide as well as ways to help someone who is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. It also includes posters advertising the Trevor Helpline, our website and our social networking sight, Trevorspace.org. Hanging up the posters around school and letting people know about The Trevor Project can be of help. You can order a copy of the Trevor Survival Kit by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 310-271-8845 x227. Check out our own Trevorspace at www.trevorspace.org and encourage students to join. It’s a safe online networking site for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and allies. The students can connect with people all over the country, get support and learn how people are dealing with similar issues.
Nicholas, continue to do the incredible work that you are doing. You may not be aware of how many people you may be helping simply by being a role model for other LBGTQ youth. The incredible work you are doing sends an extremely important, positive message that it is okay, natural and normal to be who you are. Keep up your great work and continue to be the proud, caring, supportive person you are! Please remember that we’re always here for you and anyone you might know needs our services at The Trevor Project.