High School Bullies
An issue that I feel is often overlooked is that of bullying in schools. It seems that nobody talks about it until some poor kid commits suicide. Then it becomes a hot issue for a week or two in the media, only to be forgotten again. Teenagers have it hard enough, what with going through puberty, trying to be cool and fit in with their peers, and having to deal with schoolwork and preparing for college. Combined with all that pressure, being a gay teenager in high school is ridiculously hard. In fact, there are many statistics proving that gay teens are constantly at risk of mental problems and physical harm.
The Mental Health Association says that LGBT students hear slurs like “faggot” or “homo” once every fourteen minutes each day. Author Anthony Chase conducted a study that found that 31% of LGBT teens were threatened or actually injured in school in 2009 alone. These abuses have very negative consequences on gay teens’ mental health and their education. LGBT kids are up to three times more likely to commit suicide than straight kids. Because they don’t want to deal with the bullying, LGBT students will often skip school. In fact, Mr. Chase wrote that 22% of teens he spoke with had skipped school in the last month to avoid bullies. Similarly, a 1998 study published in Counseling Today showed that 28% of LGBT students drop out of high school altogether, which is more than three times the national average for straight students.
So what can be done to create a safer environment for gay teens? Many high schools have elective classes, so one option would be to create diversity classes that focus on LGBT culture. Schools could form Gay-Straight Alliance clubs or appoint a teacher or administrator to work with gay teens. They could provide counseling, mediation, or just a friendly face that teens can talk to freely. Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to pursue their education in a safe environment.
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