LGBT Community

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Being in high school can be hard enough already, but when you’re struggling with your sexual identity, and worrying about how other people might react to you, it can be infinitely harder. According to 2012 Human Rights campaign survey of more than 10,000 LGBT youth ages 13-14, 92% face hostility in their community at some time.

For that reason it is essential that LGBT teens have support during this difficult time. Michael Cole-Schwartz, communication director for the HRC said, “half of these gay teens say there’s not a single adult that they can turn to if they feel worried or sad. Not even about their identity, but just in general…That points to the fact that these kids feel alone and alienated, and they need someone to reach out to them and let them know that there’s a sympathetic ear.”

Some students leave a stressful school environment to return to a home environment where they feel even more closeted. It can feel like there is nowhere to go where they can be their true self. According to A Survey of LGBT Americans on www.pewsocialtrends.org 4 in 10 (42%) of LGBT say they do not feel accepted by their community. Senior Lea Nason, who identifies as lesbian, has been able to turn this obstacle into a success story.

Nason feels fortunate when she recalls how easily her brothers and friends accepted her sexual orientation.

She remembers, “Our conversation was along the lines of ‘I like girls.’ ‘Oh, okay. So do you wanna go get pizza or no.’”

This ease in coming out is uncommon among the many teens struggling with coming out about who they really are, but acceptance seems to be on the rise as the issues of sexuality become more public. A 2013 Pew Research survey of LGBT Americans found “an overwhelming share of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults (92%) say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade and an equal number expect it to grow even more accepting in the decade ahead.”

The same survey found that “12 is the median age at which lesbian, gay and bisexual adults first felt they might be something other than heterosexual or straight. For those who say they now know for sure that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, that realization came at a median age of 17. Among those who have shared this information with a family member or close friend, 20 is the median age at which they first did so.” This indicates that feeling safe and supported is especially important during these teen year. According to nobullying.com, 75% of the LGBT community say that their peers do not have a problem with them identifying as LGBT. This statistic also applies to Nason.

“The TA community has been very accepting. Not much changed after I officially came out honestly. Everyone treated me exactly as they had before.”

Having the acceptance and support from your school is a key factors in feeling safe and accepted in your community. When the school you attend has support groups and clubs it makes it all the more easy. Senior Ryan Hall, joined Gay Straight Transgender Alliance because Hall believes that it will help the people he associates with.

Hall and other members of GSTA plan to raise awareness throughout the school with a new campaign. On December 16, the team placed “safe space” stickers outside of each classroom as a reminder of the role of each other us plays in making sure the places we learn are supportive. Tasha Dube who is also a member of GSTA believes that placing “safe space” sticks on every classroom door will have an impact because she said, “I think it will make the students feel more secure, they won’t have to hide who they are.”

“Our generation that’s growing up now seems to be a lot less conservative and bigoted than the one before, a lot more accepting and understanding, and hopefully it gets better and better with each new generation,” said Nason.

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