As I sat on the bus the other day, I heard a disturbing message on the radio: a large amount of teenagers aren’t accepting of those who are gay and even go so far as to bully and attack them.
Of course, I didn’t really need to be told this. I go to school. I know how some people act.
I guess it was sadness which has made me think of it as I write. I’m sad that many people of my age can’t accept their gay peers. I’m sad that in 2011, gays can’t marry. I’m sad that almost every gay person experiences or has experienced homophobia. I’m sad about the lack of equality.
In 2010, one of my good friends, Lee* came out as lesbian. She pulled me aside and told me one day and though I’d only really just got to know her, we were beginning to form a good friendship. I was touched that she trusted me; I knew that it was something that Lee had to tell others herself – when she was ready and from the minute she told me, my lips were sealed.
She told some people, little by little and soon it was out: there was a lesbian in our year.
It spread like wildfire. Strangers began to hiss, ‘dyke,’ at Lee when she walked through the corridors.
Soon, girls were rushing out of the change rooms when Lee walked in, assuming that because she was gay, she was also a pervert.
Here are some American statistics:
- 80% of gay, lesbian and bisexual young people said that they have felt severely isolated.
- A study found that gay young people are 2 – 3 times more likely to commit suicide in comparison to other youth.
- 53% of gay students have heard homophobic comments made by members of staff.
During part of this time, Lee fell into a deep depression – which unfortunately is the reality for many teens that identify as GLBTIQ. She faced nasty comments from members of the class and for months, people talked about, ‘that lesbian chick,’ when they obviously had nothing more interesting to discuss.
Luckily, the situation has calmed down a lot. It is almost normal at school for Lee now but had she not had the support which she received at that time, things could have ended in a much, much worse way.
I urge you to be kind and accepting of gay teens as this is often a really difficult time for them.
I’d be grateful to hear your thoughts on the matter and whether you'd like to read a post from Lee...
* Name was changed for security reasons.
Thank you to http://www.gayfamilysupport.com/gay-statistics.html for the statistics.