by AMY LASSITER Section Editor
All across the country, LGBT+ students still struggle with acceptance in their school and home communities.
Most schools, including Monroe Township High School, have anti-bulling laws instated, as well as groups such as the Gay-Straight Alliance in order to help their students feel safe and secure. While teachers and counselors may not judge teens who identify within the LGBT+ spectrum, the same cannot be said for their peers.
There are few instances of physical or verbal confrontations toward openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, or queer students at MTHS, and most teens when asked will have a generally positive attitude toward LGBT+ youth. That is because the true violence is hidden within casual nicknames or words.
“I’m not stereotypically flamboyant, so a lot of people may not immediately realize my sexuality. That means I’m lucky enough not to have actual violence targeted towards me in the school. I’ve only been called certain derogatory terms in casual ways, since a lot of people use words like ‘f*g’ or ‘gay’ carelessly, without realizing the harm that may do,” said junior Nic Noa.
Noa was of course referencing the fact that students not only in MTHS, but all over the world, are now jokingly calling their friends “f*g” and using “gay” as a synonym for stupid. While this may not seem too harmful, it can have a very negative effect on LGBT+ teens.
“It’s so close-minded when people say things like that as a joke. The other day I was standing at a crosswalk and someone started calling his friends ‘homos’ just because they were acting weird. I’m usually really shy, but I got angry and told him to stop, and he sarcastically apologized and rolled his eyes at me. Hardly anyone realizes that what they’re saying actually matters,” said an anonymous student.
The words of peers are not the only source of hurtful bias in the lives of LGBT+ teens. The lack of understanding or acceptance within the family and friends of open teens is far more hurtful than any word a bully could say. Even if a family member or friend may claim to be comfortable with their loved one’s identity or orientation, often that person may not being telling the truth.
“I told my best friend I was bisexual and at first she said she was okay with it, but after a while she started to act weird around me. She had said she understood but she really didn’t. I had to go to my friends online for support. I didn’t, and still don’t have anyone to talk about it with,” said an anonymous student.
To an outsider, it may seem that our society is taking the proper steps toward total equality, and to a certain extent we are; however, in a much more real sense, we are still far away from total acceptance amongst youth.
That is why we need to take a larger stand against ignorance amongst students. While extraordinary programs such as the GSA or Teen Pep do offer an unbelievably safe place for our LGBT+ students, education within classrooms and homes would make all the difference in the world.
“If children were more educated on the struggles of those on the spectrum, ignorance would be stopped at the source and their understanding would help stop bias and make our world a safer place,” said junior Maiella Altiero.
What are your opinions on LGBT+ acceptance in our school?