Bullying of LGBTQ Students

Grazielle Souza Gomes, 17, was born in Brasilia, Brazil. She is a junior at Lowell High School. She loves to help people, no matter who they are. She values her friends, like they are her family. She is hoping to go to college to become a nurse.

Grazielle Souza Gomes, Special Contributer

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By Grazielle Souza Gomes

Last year, one of my friends was bullied for being who she was. My friend is bisexual. The bullying began with silly comments about her sexual identity, afterwards they started to bully her verbally. Excluding her from the group was also an issue. Unfortunately, she didn’t feel like she could tell anyone. Her mother didn’t know and my friend thought her mother would do something severe — possibly kick her out of the house. We need schools to be a safe place for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation.

4 out of 5 American LGBTQ students have experienced harassment or bullying based on their sexual identity, according to a study commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Approximately 28 percent of LGBTQ youth stop going to school because they are bullied, and those teenagers are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than hetersexual teens.

In addition to facing challenges in school, approximately half of LGBTQ teens get a negative reaction from their parents when they come out to them.  Almost half of the youth homeless population identifies as LGBTQ. And they can be even more vulnerable when they are living on the streets, and are at greater risk of victimization.

 

There are numbers of organizations that support LGBTQ students. The ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights project, work to make sure that all the teenagers know what their rights are. Another organization is GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders), which provides legal information on people’s rights to LGBTQ students in Massachusetts public schools. BAGLY (The LGBT Youth Group Network of Massachusetts), supports the LGBTQ youth by providing shelter, food, free clinic appointments and more.

 

What can we do to have a safe and accepting community in Lowell High? How students can support each other and be more understanding? Could we have speakers who are part of the LGBTQ community come speak about their lives. We should also have more teachers with knowledge about the LGBTQ community. To make LHS more inclusive we can including more teaching about LGBTQ history. The History UnErased organization offers lessons about LGBTQ history and was created for LHS teachers.  Could we use this in our history classes? We could also have celebrations, like an LGBTQ Day, to celebrate the community openly in school.

 

Love has no gender, no labels and no differences. Not just in the schools, but in the world. If you see someone in the hallway or the street, don’t look at them like they are someone “different”. They are just like everyone else. People need to learn how to accept others’ differences because no matter what our sexual orientation, we are all human.

Ms. Gomes wrote this opinion during her studies with Social Studies Teacher Ms. Jessica Lander.

LHS Review Copy Editor Evan DeFronzo prepared graphics, proofread the text and edited this opinion.