HRC Blog

LGBT Middle School Students and National Bullying Prevention Month

Post submitted by Kim Westheimer, Director of  Welcoming Schools

When you read the words middle or junior high school, what comes to mind?  For many people, it’s a nightmare that is reflected by popular culture renditions of those early adolescent years.  In fact, for many LGBT youth, middle school is that kind of a nightmare. 

In HRC’s survey of 10,000 youth, Growing Up LGBT in America, LGBT middle school students reported much more harassment than LGBT high school students or straight students.

Among middle school LGBT youth:

  • 58% were excluded for being different
  • 67% have been verbally harassed and
  • 28% have been physically assaulted at school.

These are not just numbers.  Listen to what some youth had to say:

I recently transferred out of a public junior high where I was bullied on a daily basis because of my sexual orientation. I was the only openly gay 14 year old.

I’m already bullied enough just by my looks. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if I told other people [that I’m bisexual]!! At my school, you have to be "perfect" to fit in. I don’t express my bisexuality because I’m afraid of being hurt in the end! I only tell people I really truly feel I can trust.

[My most difficult problem] is the rejection and bullying that I am constantly faced with at school . . . identifying as male when my peers have known me as female for a long time. The school I attend is very closed-minded.

These youth deserve better. They deserve to be open about their identity without fearing rejection and violence.

There is a growing movement of people trying to make sure that things get better. There are youth activists organizing in their communities. We have a president who supports legislation to protect LGBT students and a Department of Education that released anti-bullying guidelines inclusive of LGBT and gender non-conforming students.  There are parents, administrators, activists and educators across the country working every day to ensure that students don’t experience devastating bullying.

See how you can make a difference. Find out what’s happening in your community. Take time to look at HRC’s initiatives which make the world a better place for youth:  Welcoming Schools, Legislative Initiatives, All Children All Families,  our Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program and Campus Youth Outreach.  Get involved.  Because wherever youth live, work, play or study – they deserve to be not only be free from bullying, but to be valued, respected members of their communities.

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