Have you ever been bullied for being gay, or for being perceived or assumed to be gay whether you are or not?
If so, you aren't alone. The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network's 2009 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 GLBT students are harassed and bullied in school.
Take, the experience of one gay 13-year-old who wrote to the forum recently. He says:
"So I have not even come out yet and already my stuff is getting written on with words like "fag" or "freak," and in games the jerks at my school think it's funny to get a hockey stick and shove the hockey stick in particular places when I'm not paying attention. The teachers don't care. I've tried to tell the school and all they say is, "don't tell [lies]," before I can finish. I'm getting peeved off, and I'm getting in trouble because I keep having to ask for new notebooks."
Another, 13-year-old, a lesbian from Ohio, talks about how coming out lead to name calling and social isolation.
"I came out of the closet and it felt good at first. But then people started being jerks. I got called "lesbo" and "that lesbian chick" all day and all my supposed friends won't hang out with me anymore. It sucks. Lunch is the worst. I hate it when you sit down at a table and everyone gets up at once and leaves. It's like I have an infectious disease that if they sit near me they'll get."
"My math class was in a really small classroom. I sat in the front, or near the front, and everyone else sat in the back row. They hated me being gay and would throw paper balls at me and stuff, and call me names (which I didn't mind up till the teacher wouldn't help me)."
So what can you do if you are in a situation like these ones? First off, be assertive and stand up for yourself verbally. If that doesn't work tell an adult. Though it might feel like telling an adult will make the situation worse, or won't change anything, especially if the adults around you seem to ignore the situation, you have options.
If your teachers are ignoring the situation, go to a school counsellor, principal or even the school board. If that doesn't work, or if you don't feel comfortable talking to these people, look for outside help. Try your parents, an older relative, the parents' of a friend, or a sports' coach or counsellor.
Also, document everything that happens. Keep a detailed record of al incidents. Include a description, the date, time and if there are any witnesses.
Plus, you need to know that beating somebody up, sexually assaulting and sexually harassing someone is a crime. In a number of states, so is attacking or threatening a person or damaging their property because of their sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or disabilities. You have the right to report the attack to the police or to Child Protective Services.
Ultimately, your safety and ability to get an education is what matters. Sometimes your only alternative may be transferring to a safer learning environment. That is totally unfair, but it is also totally unfair to force a student to stay in school where bullying is going on unchecked.
If you are currently being bullied, you might want to talk to someone right away. The GLBT National Help Center is a gay hotline that provides help and resources for GLBT and questioning individuals who need someone to talk to.
Call the hotline number toll-free at 1-800-246-PRIDE. The helpline is availiable Monday through Friday from 5pm to 9pm, Pacific Time. The line is open to youth up to 25 and it is staffed by volunteers 18 to 25-years-old.
You might also want to check out the It Gets Better Project which explains, "Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying...The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years."
Anti-gay bullying is a horrible thing to have to endure, but remember, it won't go on forever, and you can get help right now.