Coming out refers to declaring that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. There is no one way to come out, but coming out usually isn't just a one time thing. In fact, most people have to come out over and over in different settings, and coming out may be different depending on who you are coming out to.
A reader named Amythest, writes for advice about coming out at school. She says,
"I'm 15 and I'm a lesbian. I came out to my parents and they were cool about it. I just don't know how to come out at school. I'm somewhat worried about people's reactions, but it's more that I don't know how to go about it. Like, I don't wanna just walk around the school telling everyone I'm gay. I just need to know how to do it. Ideas?"
It is great that you were able to come out to your family, and it is awesome that they were supportive. Ultimately, that will be one of the most important things that will help you figure out how to come out to people at school.
Another teen offers this advice, "My advice on worrying about what other people will think is to not care what they think. The only people whose opinions matter are those that you let matter. Uh, well my plan was to tell the biggest gossipers and let them spread it around, but that didn't work out too great for me and I ended up telling everyone myself anyway. (And it coincidentally turned out to be National Coming Out Day, too. You could go that route."
That is all some pretty solid advice! Here are some other things to consider:
- If your school has a gay / straight alliance or other GLBT support group or club then you might want to get involved with them first.
- Talk to a teacher or guidance counsellor before you tell other students, so that if something goes badly, you will have an adult you can turn to.
- Come out online. Some teens come out on Facebook to avoid the awkwardness of coming out over and over.
- Just pick a good friend or two. Tell them and let them know it isn't a secret. If people ask you questions, feel free to answer only as many of as few as you want.
- Being a lesbian isn't a mental health problem buy any means, but dealing with other people's reactions can be tough and sometimes talking to a counsellor can be helpful. Here are some tips on getting a GLBT-friendly therapist.
You might also want to have a practice conversation with your parents and try to come up with some answers to questions that people at school might have. For example, if someone says, "How do you really know you are a lesbian?" or "My church says it is wrong to be gay?" or "Don't you think this is just a stage? what will you say?
Look, different schools have different environments. Some schools do not tolerate any anti-gay bullying or harassment. Others overlook it. You need to gauge the atmosphere at your school and decide what is safest and best for you. But really it seems like you are coming at this from a good place.
While the way you decide to announce your sexual orientation might seem pretty stressful right now. Ultimately, once the words are out, you will probably feel pretty relieved how ever you decided to share your news.