Over the past couple of days, I’ve posted about Billy Lucas and Justin Aarberg, two young gay men bullied, teased, taunted and ridiculed at their schools for being gay, or being suspected of being gay.
And both of these young men took their own lives rather than face the continued threats.
Now, we find out that a survey of more than 7,000 LGBT students suggests that the vast majority are harassed at school for their sexuality or gender identity.
The 2009 National School Climate Survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network [GLSEN], found that 84% of LGBT students were verbally harassed, while nearly 20% were physically attacked for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.
The GLSEN study also found that 61 per cent of LGBT respondents felt unsafe at school, causing many of them to skip classes, or perhaps drop out altogether. And almost two-thirds of those surveyed did not report incidents of bullying because they feared nothing would be done or the problem would get worse.
We are letting these students down on every level.
Not only do they fear coming to school, when they do attend, students who suffer homophobic bullying have grade point averages almost half a grade lower than students who were rarely harassed, and they are less likely to attend college. Whole generations not being allowed to live up to their potential because they fear being bullied, and fear that no one will help them.
On the bright side, the survey also discovered that Gay-Straight Alliances had positive effects for gay student, with lower rates of victimisation and homophobic remarks. This good news is coupled with the bad news that less than half of students questioned said their school had such a club.
This has to end. This has to end now.
Children, and that’s what they are, should not have to suffer wile they attend school. They should not have to walk the halls in fear of a push or shove, a homophobic slur, or worse. They should not have to be afraid of going to school afraid that no one will listen.
When you think you aren’t being heard, when you think no one cares, when you think the simple act of being alive is much too much to bear, there seems to be only one way out.
This has to end.