Protecting LGBT+ Students

Autumn Smith, Reporter

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgenders, and Plus (LGBT+) students are often the targets of harassment and verbal or physical assault in high schools around the country, and our school is no different; LGBT+ students are often teased and mocked by other students.

It is already very easy for LGBT+ students to feel like outsiders amongst their peers. The clear aversion to these students at our school makes it even more difficult for these students to not feel like they don’t belong in this building.

According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that almost a third (29 percent) of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual students surveyed had attempted suicide in the year before. This number is staggeringly larger than the six percent of heterosexual and gender conforming students surveyed.

The YRBS also found that 34 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students experienced bullying on school property, while 28 percent had experienced bullying online.

Bullying in schools is happening and it is still an issue. Despite the treatment of the LGBT+ community greatly improving, these students are still tormented by their peers.

Everywhere, the poor treatment of LGBT+ students by their peers, and in some cases, even teachers leads many of these students down a dark path of depression and, sometimes, suicide.

Tragically, LGBT+ students are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual and gender conforming students according to

Specifically in transgender and gender non-conforming students, bullying and suicide are much more common.

This is so saddening, because these people are human and deserve to live full lives.

In fact, 50 to 52 percent of all transgender or openly gender non-conforming students experience bullying in school. Even worse, 63 to 78 percent of transgender or openly gender non-conforming students experience sexual assault or physical violence on school property.

These statistics are terrible, but rather impersonal to anyone reading this. Statistics are very broad and feel insignificant, because they don’t matter, but our school is not immune to many of these statistics.

I, myself, have witnessed incidents in our school. In the back of a bus, I was a witness to a conversation about how homosexuality is disgusting; how the people would exile their own children if they were gay, how people who are bisexual cannot be trusted because their sexuality makes them inherently disloyal, and how anyone who isn’t heterosexual should die.

I am not straight. I can have feelings for people of all genders and sexualities alike. This does not mean, however, that I am in anyway disloyal or less of a person than anyone else at our school.

Two years ago, I was openly dating a girl at our school. We were public about our relationship despite my apprehension of it. My apprehension appeared to be well grounded as we received many comments from male peers prompting sex with the both of us and other students making offensive remarks about us.

I am not the only one to have witnessed negative treatment of LGBT+ students at our school.

Senior Rachel Locke stated that peers often outcast LGBT+ students and called derogatory names. She said that many of these students are judged based on their gender or sexuality over their personality.

When questioned about our school’s response to such treatment of LGBT+ students, Locke said, “I feel like the teachers will call out those making comments in the moment, but it doesn’t feel like a top issue for the school. The school is making a stand against all harassment, but it feels like some issues get less attention.”

I believe that the cause for much of this treatment is ignorance and stubbornness. Many students who oppose the LGBT+ community in general simply do not understand the people within in, or simply do not want to change from habit.

In my opinion, the best way for our school to handle this problem is by informing its students about the LGBT+ community and the effect the bullying has on them.

Our school should do more than it does to promote educating students about the LGBT+ community. We could have assemblies with guest speakers telling students their stories or even just spreading knowledge to the students.

Administration could also attend Alliance meetings regularly to show their support for LGBT+ students.

A large problem with this is that many students don’t report incidents for many reasons. It is important to make students feel comfortable and safe in reporting incidents that happen. Sadly, this is not an easy thing to do. The best way to make students feel comfortable reporting incidents is to have administration show their support of LGBT+ students by doing the things previously mentioned.