self-hatred. Another recalls spending every lunch period in a bathroom stall. A lesbian recollects her
ones sexuality) in school but the bad things will always overpower the good. A study done in 1995 by the
of those students who are out to everyone. (Hopkins, Gary:
www.education-world.com/a_admin/admin087) On average, a high school student, gay or straight, will
hear ?anti-gay remarks about 25-40 times? in one school day. (Hopkins, Gary:
www.education-world.com/a_admin/admin087) Out of all the verbal abuse heard, ?80% of it is failed to
A survey done in 1996 on over 8,400 high school students by The Safe School Anti-Violence
heterosexual; 5% as homosexual or bisexual, and 4% as uncertain.? (The Safe School Anti-Violence
Project of Washington: www.relioustolerance.org/hom_stud)
Among the gay/lesbian/bisexual students, ?34% has been harassed? due to their ?sexual
attention.? (The Safe School Anti-violence Project of Washington: www.religiuotolerance.org/hom_stud)
about suicide.? (The Safe School Anti-violence Project of Washington:
stopping them; homophobia (irrational fear of homosexuals) is one of the factors. Teenagers have to go through people that hate them just because of their sexual orientation. Gay teenagers in high school have
to face homophobic teenagers everyday.
accepted if they do tell their family and friends. The overwhelming sensation of abandonment is so great,
the teenager feels that he/she will end up getting kicked out of the house. Or, that his/her friends will no longer want to be his/her friend anymore. Teenagers don?t know how ?to feel or react under these
loneliness?. (Wilson, Terry: Chicago Tribune 25 Mar. 1997) The feeling of rejection is another factor that
The lack of support makes it hard for gay youths to come out. They don?t know whom to trust
student feels they are the only one in their school and is afraid to come out. (Cloud, John: Times 8 Dec.
The lacks of support and role models in schools leave many gay and lesbian students feeling alone and ashamed during their adolescence. The high rate of suicide among gay and lesbian students is the result of a sense of profound isolation and aloneness experienced through high school. (Lopes, Paula: interview 31 Jan. 2000)
Many teenagers fear coming out because of the violence they have observed. One incident is the Matthew Shepard attack. Anti-gay crimes like that leave teenagers feeling even more fearful of coming out. Even worse the violence may come from within their own homes.
A 17-year-old teenager told his parents that he was gay. His own father beat him to near death while the mother stood by yelling anti-gay slurs at her son. (Safe Schools Coalition of Washington State: Jan. 1999 www.safes.org)
If gay teenagers fear coming out in today?s society, is it society keeping these teenagers in the
hear their own parents? making anti-gay slurs, more.
Two lesbian girls are at a school football game. A few rows up from them are a group of parents shouting out anti-gay remarks to the young girls. Feeling upset they leave. On the way out a group of young kids throw food at them and call them names as well. (Safe Schools Coalition of Washington State: Jan. 1999 www.safeschools-wa.org)
racist groups could be the KKK, different gangs, and extremely conservative religious groups. These people make these teenagers feel ashamed for who they are. There is no safe way for these teenagers ?to explore the possibilities? with out getting ?criticized and physically harmed.? (Marcus, Eric 56)
Gay and lesbian students often feel invisible in their own schools. Their invisibility is typically
reinforced by heterosexism (everyone should be heterosexual) in their environment, which causes gay and lesbian students feel invisible, unsupported and isolated. (Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian
Society?s attitude, behaviors and tendencies to render gay and lesbian students invisible in the school and within the family. The students? feelings of discomfort and isolation are reinforced as their schools further perpetuate the myth of their nonexistence. (Lopes, Paula: interview 31 Jan. 2000)
The lack of knowledge of gay and lesbian students is a major role that society holds on keeping
you will become gay, and Gay people are always trying to recruit other people.? (Katz, Jonathan 103)
For the students that are out and in high school, we should applaud them. These teenagers had the strength to overcome all of the negative aspects, which kept them from coming out. But, we do have to
look at both sides of coming out too; the positive side and then the negative side.
Insults take many forms; they all hurt. Racial, ethnic and sexual slurs are particularly abusive. Whereas most of us would not allow a racist slur to occur unchecked, we do not always accord the same standards to those remarks made at the expense of lesbian and gay people. Sometimes such slurs don?t
even get recognized as being hurtful and may be considered socially acceptable. Many young people use
terms such as ?lezzie?, ?faggot? or ?queer? when referring to gay and lesbian people or to people who we
people that hatred of homosexuals is tolerated by our society.
When a teenager comes out while still in high school, that person now has a peace of mind. ?They
no longer have to fight within themselves.? (Cloud, John: Times 8 Dec 1997 82-83) These teenagers
now have a place to belong in this crazy world. These students have a lot of courage to face all their fears. A huge burden has been lifted off their chest. They can hold their head up high and say I?m proud to be gay/lesbian/bisexual. These teens have ?accomplished a major task in their life.? (Cloud, John: Times 8 Dec 1997 82-83) When the teenager does come out to his/her parents, and the parents understand, the teen has an overwhelming feeling of acceptance. They know their family will be there to guide and support them through thick and thin. These gay teenagers have the power of understanding of themselves; they are now a whole person.
Yet, with good consequences there are the bad ones as well. Many high school students walk the
should be shot. Those were just a very short list of some verbal harassment. Verbal harassment is just as
97% of it.? (Hopkins, Gary: www.education-world.com/a_admin/admon087) While in school about
?69% of all GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender) crimes? take place. (Byrd, Richard:
www.glccftl.org/library/youthgroup/0598) 97% of all students in public high schools report regularly
hearing homophobic remarks from their peers. (Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth: Report
of Mass. Governor?s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, 1993)
With verbal harassment, physical harassment isn?t far behind. Gay people are three times more
A 16-year-old girl is dating another female. Five boys from school find out, so they force her into a vacant classroom and tell her if she doesn?t perform oral sex on them they will kill her. They boys call her names and they rip off all her clothes. They start to rape her one at a time. After they are done raping her, they nearly beat her to death. Right before they leave, they tell her ?Next time we see you with your girlfriend, you won?t live to see the next day.? (Safe Schools Coalition of Washington State: Jan. 1999 www.safes.org)
In 1995, there were 2,395 reports of physical harassment. In 1996, there were 2,529 reports; that is a 6% increase within one year. (Byrd, Richard: www.glccftl.org/library/youthgroup/0598)
The hardest part of coming out is being accepted; most times you?re not. You hope that your
friends understand you and will help you through the rough times. They just turn their backs on you.
Then you think your family will help you then. They have too; they?re your flesh and blood. You tell
them, they tell you that you are no longer their son/daughter. You have no one to accept you now.
When telling your family you are gay/lesbian, your mom and dad kick you out of the house. You
have just been abandoned. ?26% of gay and lesbians youths are forced to leave their home because of
before, 35% of gay and lesbian youths are more likely to complete a suicide. Gay and lesbian teenagers
sometimes can?t handle the isolation and harassment so they feel it is best to end the harassment by ending
School Anti-Violence Project of Washington: www.relioustolerance.org/hom_stud)
?In a study of depression in gay and lesbian youths, researchers found depression strikes homosexual youth four to five times more severely than their non-gay peers.? (The Safe School Anti-Violence Project of Washington: www.relioustolerance.org/hom_stud) While depressed teenagers are more likely drink, ?68% of gay males use alcohol and 44% use other drugs; 83% of lesbians use
Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, 1992) ?80% of lesbians, gay and bisexual youth report severe isolation problems from being depressed.? (Hetrick. E.S.: Martin. A.D., Journal of Homosexuality 14 (1/2). 25-43. 1987)
Gay youths are more than ?five times more likely to skip classes or school because they feel
unsafe.? Marcus, Eric: 19) So many students have skipped classes to stay away from other classmates that
verbally harass them, sometimes repeatedly missing certain classes. In a national study, ?28% of lesbian,
gay, and bisexual high school students were seen to have dropped out of school because of harassment.?
(Remafedi. G: Pediatrics, 142)