The Vista Voice

The Life of an LGBTQ+ Student

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Alyssa Ambrosini, Copy Editor

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With Gay Pride month inching closer each day, there are many questions about how high schools will view the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community this coming June. Although society is moving towards accepting the LGBTQ+ students in their schools, this unique community still faces numerous challenges.

School can be challenging regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, but the environment can be especially unwelcoming to LGBTQ+ youth.

According to a 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8 percent of all high school students in the U.S. identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Out of the 8 percent of these students, 34 percent experienced bullying on school property and 10 percent were or injured with a weapon.

In order to combat the mistreatment toward this community, many schools have implemented policies to help protect LGBTQ+ students and encourage support from their peers. One of the many ways to gain acceptance in schools is through clubs such as Vista del Lago’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).

This program encourages LGBTQ+ allies and students to discuss their ideas about gender and sexuality expression. “GSA helps provide acceptance in peers who don’t find acceptance at home or just want to find more people from the community,” said freshman Alex Freitas, explaining the benefits of having a safe place for LGBTQ+ students and allies each week after school. “I feel so excited to go and see all the friends that love and accept each other. The environment is so positive.” This after-school club serves as an opportunity for students to discuss difficult matters while providing a safe space for some of Vista’s most vulnerable students.

Many students who identify as LGBTQ+ also report having difficulty coming out.  According to a survey, 9 in 10 LGBTQ+ youth are out to close friends; however, 46 percent still make an effort to conceal their identities from peers. While revealing sexuality or gender identity can be liberating, this often runs the risk of bullying or discrimination. Many LGBTQ+ youth go to great lengths to conceal their orientation or identity when they feel they no one will accept them.

“You don’t know who’s accepting and who’s not,” explained freshman student Braden Ramirez, stating that many close friends or family have had difficulty accepting their gender identity as they were still in a struggle to determine it. “I guess they just don’t see me the same,” said Ramirez, explaining how more often than not, they would see changes in relationships after revealing their identity.

Despite the complications that come with discovering and revealing their identity, there is another pillar of support that is essential to students during their teenage years. LGBTQ+ youth often look to their parents for support, and offering a safe home environment for these students is vital to their successes.

“I feel very accepted at home. I get to express myself and feel like the real me,” said Freitas.

Finding support outside of school also be difficult for many students who are still learning about their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, many LGBTQ+ students find that surrounding themselves with a safe learning environment and an accepting community creates a safe space for them to discover and express themselves in positive ways.

Many LGBTQ+ teens face challenges at school or at home in their most crucial years of self-discovery. Although this group may still be at risk, a positive community and home life are the reason many members of this community continue to thrive in schools.

 

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The Life of an LGBTQ+ Student