The majority of young people spend many of their waking hours at school, surrounded by teachers, administrators, and peers. For LGBTQ young people, school can be a tricky place to explore who they are and how they identify, especially if they face harassment, discrimination, or a lack of resources. The Trevor Project is here to offer nonjudgmental support to all LGBTQ young people who may be in crisis, need immediate help, or just need someone to talk to. You are not alone!
1. One of my “friends” told the whole school that I’m gay, and now I’m being bullied every day. I feel so alone. What can I do?
Answer: It’s not easy when people find out something that you weren’t ready for them to know. Choosing to share your identity with others should be your decision alone, and we’re sorry that someone took that choice away from you. Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in school without fear of being bullied. Do any of the teachers or administrators in school know what’s been going on? Would you be able to tell someone about some of the comments you’ve heard and what people have been saying? More and more states, and the federal government, are taking a harsher stand against bullying, so your school may have a step-by-step process for addressing bullying. We encourage you to seek support from trusted school personnel. It could be an important first step to stopping the bullying you’re going through. Do you have a parent, friend, family member, teacher, school counselor, or someone in your community that you can trust? Finding someone who will listen to how you’re feeling and offer support can help you get through tough times. Remember, there is nothing wrong with being gay. Your classmates’ mean words say a lot more about them than about you, and you shouldn’t feel responsible for their hurtful actions. If you ever feel like the stress of being bullied is too much, please reach out to The Trevor Project. Our counselors are here 24/7 and are ready to help!
2. How do I make my school a safer place for all LGBTQ people?
There are a number of organizations that work specifically in schools to address discrimination against LGBTQ students. One such organization is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which works to ensure safe schools for ALL students. You can visit their “ACT” page to access their education-focused programs, student groups, and resources. The Gay Straight Alliance Network is also a great place to turn to if you’re looking to start a group at school for LGBTQ students and their allies. Visit www.gsanetwork.org to learn more!
The Trevor Project also has several resources for teachers, educators, and school personnel that help adults become better allies to LGBTQ young people, and allow them to learn more about the unique issues facing this population. If you have a school counselor, administrator, or teacher who is interested in these kinds of trainings, they can learn more at www.TheTrevorProject.org.
3. The teachers in my school are not the most accepting people, and say really hurtful things about LGBTQ people. Should I come out and risk their wrath? What should do?
We’re sorry to hear that you’re facing some teachers who aren’t very accepting. Unfortunately, we can’t control the actions of other people – even when their actions are hurtful. The good thing is that we can take charge of our actions, and make the best decisions we can to ensure we stay safe, healthy, and supported.
First, it’s important to know that coming out doesn’t have to be a “tell everyone you know” kind of thing. You can tell a few friends, just your family, or even no one! It’s all up to you and how comfortable you feel. The Trevor Project has a great resource for youth who are considering whether or not to come out. It’s called “The Coming Out Handbook” and you can read the whole thing online.
Still, even if you choose not to come out, it’s challenging to be around educators who are openly intolerant. Do you have a school counselor, guidance counselor, or school administrator at your school who you can speak to? School counselors work within schools to help students with social/emotional/personal concerns and are usually bound by certain rules of ethical guidelines, standards and confidentiality. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone in your school, are there any parents, family members, religious leaders, or community youth groups who can offer support? Even if they aren’t able to change what’s going on in the classroom, they may still be able to help you get through any tough times.
There are also organizations out there who offer great resources to educators who are open to learning more about supporting their LGBTQ students. If you have a school administrator or school counselor who you trust and are able to talk to, you might feel comfortable telling them about some of these tools:
- www.GLSEN.org: This nonprofit features a wide variety of programs, resources, and tips for educators as well as students. Visit the “ACT” or “TEACH” sections to learn more.
- Trevor Lifeguard Workshop: Available on DVD, this training is great for students in middle or high school to help learn more about LGBTQ young people, and how to help prevent suicide in way that keeps everyone safe.
- Trevor Adult Trainings: The Trevor Project has a series of adult trainings that teachers, educators, and school personnel can access online at www.Trvr.org/AdultEducation.
If you ever need immediate help or support, don’t worry – you aren’t alone. The Trevor Project is available 24/7 via text, call, or chat, and is free, anonymous, confidential, and LGBTQ-affirming place of support for all LGBTQ young people.
- Stop Bullying
- GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network)
- GSA Network (Gay-Straight Alliance Network)
- Campus Pride
- Athlete Ally
- Queer Youth Advice for Educators
- Resources for Transgender College Students
- College Scholarships for LGBTQ Students
- Resources for LGBTQ Students
- For Teachers: Teaching LGBTQ Youth
- Students and Gender Identity Guide for Schools (USC Rossier’s, online MSC program)
- Shine Light on Depression
- HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools
- Mental Health Resources for the LGBTQ Community
Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.