High school Experiences for LGBTQ+ Students

High school Experiences for LGBTQ+ Students

Grey Cabral, Hour 5B

High school can be a difficult time for many students, and in some cases it could be a lot harder for LGBTQ  students. Imagine if you didn’t have much support at home then you try to get support from your school and they won’t or can’t help? This is why it’s important for schools to provide a supportive and safe environment for LGBTQ students. 

If you are unfamiliar with the term LGBTQ  it stands for (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer). The LGBTQ community has been around since the early 1700th century,  and possibly even earlier. Since then, the LGBTQ community has made strides of improvement, and have gained rights they didn’t have back in the 17th century. 

What Schools Have Done to Negatively Impact LGBTQ Students. 

The governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin is trying to pass new policies in school districts that would impact the lives of many transgender and nonbinary youth. Youngkin wants transgender students to by categorized by their biological sex and to not have to rights to use their correct name and pronouns without their parent’s consent which could put these students in very uncomfortable or even unsafe situations. Being an lgbtq+ individual is hard enough as is,  and with politicians trying to make laws and policies about things that will impact many people’s lives can be a stressful.  The policy Youngkin is working on passing will effect transgender and nonbinary students in Virginia. The article clearly demonstrates why this is an issue for many students: “The new policies also require parental approval of changes to a student’s name, along with any nicknames or changes in pronouns… It would enlist teachers to divulge to parents what lgbtq students have confided in them.” In other words this means teachers would be required to out students to their parents or guardians if the student reveals anything about their identity to a teacher.

Outing is the act of disclosing a person’s lgbtq identity without the person’s consent and can be done intentionally or unintentionally. Being outed could potentially be very dangerous to lgbtq people and this can be a pretty negative thing to go through especially if the person doesn’t take it well or is unsupportive. The problem with this is if a student goes by a different name or pronouns they wouldn’t be able to use them at school without getting outed to their parents when sharing this information with teachers. These students should have the right to express themselves without the consequences of being outed and  having little to no support at home or at school. Schools need to be a safe environment where students can get help in these situations. 

How support in school can positively affects lgbtq+ students and how poor support can lead to many negative effects.

 LGBTQ students may have a harder time at school, and may also struggle with mental health issues. However, an article about LGBTQ students emphasizes on the fact that a positive school environment can improve and greatly impact a students mental health. 

“Results indicate that LGBTQ students in schools with more positive school climates were at lower risk of suicidality and reported fewer depressive symptoms compared to students in less positive school climates.” In other words the support and overall positivity in a school setting can be very important and beneficial for lgbtq students especially when dealing with mental health issues. When lgbtq students have more support from school their overall mental health can be much better and a fewer number of students show symptoms of mental health issues. On the other hand when students have little to no support the numbers are much higher. In a survey the Trevor project did in 2022 we can see statistics about the lgbtq community and mental health issues.  Here are some statistics that show youth who have support from their families and school attempt suicide at a much lower rate. “1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide and LGBTQ youth of color reported higher rates than their white peers.” There has to be something done about this. The amount as transgender and nonbinary people who struggle with their mental health and being suicidal is too high. Schools and people in general need to provide lgbtq youth with support and kindness, and that is only the bare minimum that should be done. 

Another statistic from the trevor project shows that 59% of transgender (men/boys) have considered suicide and 22% attempted. This group had the highest percentage out of all the other gender identity category and for sexual orientation the group with the highest percents is pansexual. 53% of pansexual youth has considered suicide and 21% attempted. The website mentions in multiple different points  that the way people are treated will directly affect the their mental health and if they have considered suicide or attempted. This is why the way lgbtq youth is treated is so important to take into consideration in schools and at home. The way people are treated definitely affects their mental health either positively or negatively. 

LGBTQ Students at SPASH.

SPASH can offer some support and help to all students including lgbtq individuals, although it could potentially be improved it is still a start. Having any kind of support at school is better than having no support.

What is it like being a lgbtq student at SPASH? I interviewed a few students from SPASH to get more informantion about being an lgbtq student at school. In an interview I asked a SPASH student how they felt about our school, and if they thought it was a safe space for LGBTQ students. They responded to this by saying; “I think that It can be, it depends on who you go to. There is a right and wrong person to go to in these situations.” Overall most of the students I interviewed had similar responses. 

The next student interviewed stated,  “I think that there is a safe lgbtq community at spash but I wouldn’t say SPASH itself makes anyone feel especially safe.” This quote comes from a junior student at SPASH, and they explain that SPASH is not entirely safe for LGBTQ students.

What do students struggle with at SPASH being LGBTQ? A sophomore student remarks, “My biggest struggle as a student is the fear of other students outing me or treating me unfairly just because I’m different.”  This shows that peers may treat LGBTQ students unfairly or differently. 

 In conclusion SPASH could definitely improve to make LGBTQ+ students feel more comfortable and welcome in the school.