Words Matter

Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

For LGBT youth that go to bed at night and stare at the ceiling, sleeplessly wondering what awaits them the next day at school or at church or in their home, anti-LGBT vitriol is commonplace. Words are a powerful tool and when used to injure or demoralize, can incite great harm, particularly on LGBT youth who hear nothing but negativity about being g lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

According to HRC’s groundbreaking youth survey, LGBT youth are twice as likely to report they are harassed, assaulted, kicked or shoved at school. Ninety-two percent say they hear negative messages about being LGBT at school, on the Internet and from peers.

LGBT middle school students reported far more harassment than LGBT high school students or straight students. And among middle school LGBT students, 58 percent reported being excluded for being different.

Each time a friend, ally, teacher, parent, elected official or role model uses harmful, anti-LGBT language, it sends a powerful message to LGBT youth that they are lesser than.  Words can silence and marginalize LGBT youth, affecting their performance at school and dampening their mood. It is up to each and every one of us to ensure that young people can thrive, and that begins with our words.

To learn more about HRC’s groundbreaking LGBT youth survey, click here. 

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