At some point everyone has a tough childhood. My mom used to tell me about her school days when kids would pick on her but in the back of my mind I knew that I had a completely different sort of bullying. First off, I knew what the words, gay, fag and queer meant by the age of 5. I was never pushed around but for some reason the boys at school, usually the older kids, would call out one of the words when I pasted them. Sadly, it was so usual that after a while I stopped paying attention. I grew to ignore the anxiety of turning the corner of the school, or the embarrassed look on my friends faces. Now looking back, I think to myself that a kid should never have had to ‘learn to ignore’ and to accept being bullyied. Seriously, I really thought that this was life and that I needed to just get used to it.
No one needs to get used to hate!
Each day as students walk through the halls of their respective schools, they hear an average of 25.5 anti-gay remarks. This ongoing bashing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons sets into every student’s mind as they go throughout their education. Homophobia, if not introduced to a child at school, is at least reinforced. According to a study by the University of South Carolina, the average student realizes his or her sexual orientation at age 13. For a heterosexual student, many avenues of support including family, friends, school, and the community, exist to help with any difficulties that may then arise. By contrast, gay students rarely feel able to ask their families, friends, schools, or communities for help, fearing the possible response they might get. The essential difference between gay youth and youth from other minorities is that gay and lesbian youth do not grow up with people like themselves. The products of heterosexual families in the vast majority of cases, gay youth usually come from communities where few gay adults are visible, attend schools with no openly gay staff, and belong to friendship groups where anti-gay rhetoric is commonplace. Often feeling completely isolated, these youth must make a perilous journey to adulthood through a society, which provides them with a mostly negative stance regarding homosexuality.
So what do we do? If you are a student being bullied and your school isn’t supporting you check this out Pflag .