LGBTQ bullying is an epidemic that affects the lives of many LBGTQ youth on a daily basis, it threatens the well being of the victims and often leads to tragedy such as suicide and death. In 2018, a study revealed some alarming statistics that paint a troubled picture: 33 percent reported being bullied on school property and 27.1 percent reported being cyber-bullied, compared to their heterosexual counterparts who reported at 17.1 and 13 percent respectively. Gay youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, 37 percent of LBGTQ youth report being happy compared to 67 percent of their straight peers, however 80 percent of LBGTQ youth report they feel they will be happy once they relocate to another town. The act of bullying puts youth at risk of depression, thoughts of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and risky sexual behavior. While being out as an LGBTQ adult can result in positive social benefits, the same can’t be said for LBGTQ youth. All of us can recall from experience all the trials and tribulations which accompany adolescence, sexual awakening, the struggle for acceptance and the pressures of education, now combine this with trying to find your path as a LBGTQ youth. Bullying makes it impossible to achieve the goals of growing into young adulthood.
For example, my husband was relentlessly bullied in his freshman year of high school, he was punched, kicked, ridiculed and spit on to the point that he left high school and never returned. Years later he continued his studies and was awarded his diploma through a G.E.D program. Fortunately, he had the courage and perseverance to overcome his situation and become the man he is today but the memories and scars remain. There are countless stories of youth who don’t come out through the other side but there are signs you can look for if you suspect your child is being bullied.
The signs are unexplained injuries, lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, frequent headaches, stomach aches, possible faking of illness, skipping meals or binge eating, difficulty sleeping, reports of nightmares, declining grades along with loss of interest in schoolwork and not wanting to go to school, sudden loss of friends, avoidance of social activities, low self-esteem, overwhelming feelings of helplessness and the presence of self-destructive behaviors such as inflicting harm on themselves, running away from home or speaking about suicide.
On the other side of this spectrum are signs that a child is the bully, getting into verbal and physical fights, have close friends who are bullies, becoming increasingly aggressive, increased visits to the principal’s office or detention, possess unexplained extra money and or material items, failure to accept responsibility for their actions and obsessed with their reputation or popularity at school. In less than 40 percent of bullying incidents, an adult was alerted of an act of bullying. Common reasons for this include a fear of being regarded as weak which forces them to try to handle it on their own, backlash from the bully for seeking help and kids who are bullied suffer from social isolation, they lose faith that anyone will care or understand.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) youth and those perceived as LGBTQ are at an increased risk of being bullied. U.S. high school students who self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) report having been bullied on school property (33%) and cyber-bullied (27.1%) in the past year, than their heterosexual peers (17.1% and 13.3%, respectively). The study also showed that more LGB students (10%) than heterosexual students (6.1%) reported not going to school because of safety concerns. Among students who identified as “not sure” of their sexual orientation, they also reported being bullied on school property (24.3%), being cyber-bullied (22%), and not going to school because of safety concerns (10.7%). Bullying puts youth at increased risk for depression, suicidal ideation, misuse of drugs and alcohol, risky sexual behavior, and can affect academics as well.
Equality Nevada will be co-hosting the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) in Henderson at the Green Valley Library with meetings scheduled at 4 pm on the following dates, Tuesday Sept 17, Tuesday October 15, Tuesday November 19 and Tuesday December 17. The meet up is open to all ages, from all Henderson and Las Vegas Schools. We will be having education and fun activities.
It takes all of us together to provide solutions and the means to protect our youth from bullying. Know the signs and actions to protect your son or daughter before it’s too late. Report bullying to teachers, counselors or your parents. If your with CCSD, you can reach out to their Safe voice Program, (https://ccsd.net/students/safevoice/).