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How Should Gay Teens Handle the Locker Room?

Tips and Suggestions on Handling Your, and Other People's, Discomfort

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How Should Gay Teens Deal With the Locker Room?

How Should Gay Teens Deal With the Locker Room?

Image (c) Joe Shlabotnik

The issue of locker rooms is one that comes up a lot for gay teens. Many worry about changing in front of a crush, or seeing a crush change in front of them. Others are concerned about how coming out might affect the dynamics of the locker room, and if they will be harassed or bullied for being GLBT.

This is a concern for one gay teen who writes on the forum:

"I've been planning on coming out at school, but I have one concern: locker rooms. I'm afraid all the guys will like freak out and think that I'm looking at them or something, though I couldn't be less interested. It's especially bad, considering I have gym practically all year. Oh, and we don't actually shower, we just have to change into uniforms, but I still think the people here would over-react. So basically my question boils down to, what are your experiences with it? How did people react? How did you deal with it?"

Here are some answers that he got:

One boy says: "I think everyone's experience is gonna be different. You see, people l know, know me as a person 1st. So they don't expect me to look at them or anything. I used to change with my guy friends and they don't even care. My best friend is str8 and we actually had showers. He didn't mind if we were in the shower together. I guess another factor is if you're str8 acting. Remember that people don't have to know you're gay. The guys don't have to know and if they freak out, ignore them, eventually they will stop."

Another adds: "When I get dressed for gym, I just don't really look at anyone while dressing. I'll think about something else. Last year my locker was next to the hottest guy in school and I just had to divert my attention from him. Don't be intimidated by other guys if they say that your looking at them. A lot of jocks like to say things like that to make you look weird. Just ignore things like that. If you have harassment issues tell the coach. If that doesn't help, tell the principal, or a teacher you can easily relate with."

That's good advice and hopefully, if it ever comes to that, you will find support from the school administration.

The locker room situation can also be a huge issue for transgender teens, whether they are out or not. A few progressive schools have made unisex bathrooms, say in the nurses office, available for trans kids. If yours hasn't, you might want to ask if that is a possibility. Some even let trans teens use the bathroom and changing room of the gender they identify with. Unfortunately, this isn't all that common, and navigating this aspect of high school life can be extra complicated!

If you need help with this or any other issue you can join the GLBT Teens community forum or call the GLBT Youth Talk Line at 1-800-246-PRIDE.

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