LGBTQ+ Harassment Prevention
By Makehba Nelson, Ashley Holton, and Cassie Hagen – students of South Washington County schools (District 833)
While much progress has been made towards tolerance and acceptance of the LGBTQ community, there still are issues. Harassment is still prevalent, especially within the body of American public schools. Since October is bullying prevention month, it’s essential that parents have a clear understanding of what bullying and harassment looks like, and how to properly address it as an ally, while keeping LGBTQ+ students in mind.
First let’s address the basics:
What is LGBTQ+?
- Lesbian: a female who is attracted to other females
- Gay: a male who is attracted to other males; also used as an umbrella term
- Bisexual: someone who is attracted to two genders, typically males and females
- Transgender: someone whose gender identity doesn’t correspond with their sex assigned at birth
- Queer: though once a derogatory word, it is now used as an umbrella term for those that fall in the LGBT+ spectrum (still be careful when using, as some still take it as an offense; more of a self-identifier)
- +: Quite recently, there has been an addition of many other identities to acronym, but the preceding identities are the most commonly known in our society. Be on the lookout for any terms that have recently surfaced.
What is the difference between an Ally and an Advocate?
Ally vs. Advocate:
Ally = an individual who speaks out and stands up for a person or group that is being targeted and discriminated against. An ally works to end oppression by supporting people who are stigmatized or treated unfairly.
Advocate = speaks out publicly to support a cause or policy
All people should be allies, especially parents, since their children could identify as LGBTQ. However, not everyone is expected to be an advocate. Being an ally simply means supporting the notion that LGBTQ individuals should be treated with respect and standing up against those who discriminate against them.
What can verbal harassment/bullying look like?
Although many use homophobic slurs, a lot of people don’t realize that they are offensive. Speaking up when these words are used helps develop a safe environment for those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. The use of the following terms should be discouraged:
- Gay (used to mean stupid or lame)
While the intention of someone who uses one of these terms might not be to hurt LGBTQ individuals, the fact of the matter is using these terms does. By saying slurs or not calling out individuals who use them, the faulty connotation of LGBTQ = bad is allowed to continue.
By speaking up when you see bullying of LGBTQ individuals or hear derogatory language, you can help end discrimination in schools and communities. You can also use your knowledge of LGBTQ topics to educate others who may be misinformed.