High school students can face a vast array of social and emotional obstacles. For LGTBQIA+ high school students, the number of obstacles tends to multiply. Discrimination is not unique to this population but it does seem to be on the rise. Harassment, exclusion, bullying, and literal violence are potential realities in their everyday life.
At a time when kids most want to fit in as they learn so many valuable social skills, LGTBQIA+ teens can find themselves struggling for survival. There are one-to-one options for diffusing such scenarios. However, it is also crucial to remember that you do not have to take it.
What Type Of Discrimination Does An LGTBQIA+ High School Student Face?
It would take far more than a single post to do justice to this question but circumstances often involve:
- Slurs and whisper campaigns related to your sexual orientation or gender identity
- Being barred from attending social events if your date does not match the boy-girl paradigm
- Issues related to bathroom usage
- Issues related to extra-curricular activities that are traditionally broken into groups of male and female
- Bullying and physical threats — online and in-person
- Physical violence
Each situation is different, of course, but there is an ever-increasing number of options available to anyone targeted for abuse and discrimination.
How To Handle LGTBQIA+ Discrimination As A High School Student
Learn the Rules and Your Rights
Get informed. And don’t be shy about for help when it comes to this effort. For starters, become very acquainted with the precise rules governing your school. This will save you from being at the mercy of uninformed administrators. It also gives you the chance to behave with integrity. If you’re already being singled out, there is no reason to draw more attention to yourself by even accidentally breaking rules.
At the same time, learn your rights. This goes far beyond your high school. We’re talking about local, state, and federal rights. Reach out to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education to identify how to best protect yourself.
Report the Discrimination and Keep Diligent Records
Notify a teacher or administrator immediately to file an official complaint. Get copies of your documents and begin writing down all the details about:
- The incidents in question
- Dates, times, and locations
- Any responses you got from the school
- Names of witnesses
If English is not your primary language and/or you have any disabilities that make documentation a challenge, you have a legal right to request and receive assistance.
Note: It’s not unusual for officials in positions of power to not know much about laws and rights. They may assume you won’t question them. Do your own research and maintain a healthy wariness of “experts.”
Find the Support You Need
There are many groups now working from coast to coast to help LGTBQIA+ youth. Even if you can’t find in-person options in your geographical area, online groups can be incredibly helpful and reassuring. You are not alone.
Safeguard Your Mental Well-Being
Going through legal channels to defend yourself is essential and can also help students in future generations. But none of this changes the reality that you are probably struggling with some emotional pain and distress. Therefore, running parallel to your efforts to challenge discrimination, it is quite useful to connect with a therapist who regularly works with LGBTQIA+ youth.
Your weekly sessions will serve as a foundation for any other work you do in the name of civil rights. If you or someone you know is suffering from LGTBQIA+ discrimination, I can help. Let’s connect and talk more about your options.