*Names are changed for privacy.
High school is hard. High school is harder if you are a minority, outside of being discriminated against in the real world, you are also discriminated against and antagonized in school for being black, queer, disabled, etc.
The term “queer,” in this sense, is used to describe someone in the LGBTQIA+ community.
A SIECUS study shows 48% of the college students surveyed knew they were gay or bisexual in high school.
Though, while many know they are queer in high school, 23% of queer adults still aren’t out, says Pew Research. Queer kids not coming out until later in life could be due to safety, fear of being outcasted, and uncertainty in their identity.
Family and Peer Support
Ciarra Johnson*, a senior at Leesville, “came out to [her] family freshman year and to school sophomore year,” as a lesbian.
“I felt like… when I first came out [I] lost a couple of friends… [but now] I am thriving more than before,” said Johnson.
Losing friends can be dangerous for queer youth. A new study found that youth who lost friends when they came out were “29 times more likely to attempt suicide than those who didn’t.”
Having a good support system, in general, is important, more so if you are a minority. “Families are such a crucial part of our development as healthy people, and this is especially true for LGBTQQ+ youth,” says ACS.
“My family is very supportive,” said Caden Smith*, a transmacs and bisexual senior at Leesville. “It has definitely made it a little better.”.
“Most of my friends are LGBTQ, so it’s really good to have people to relate to,” said Smith.
Having commonality with people around you can offer different support due to similar experiences.
A lot of queer people go through queer, usually religious, guilt. This is the idea of growing up in a society where being cisgender and heterosexual (cishet) is the norm and feeling like you are disappointing your friends, family, and God when differing from heteronormativity.
“I always thought that my parents would not accept me because of their religion,” said Johnson.
Religion is a factor for many to not come out. “If during my development I experience messages that there’s something inherently wrong, sinful within me, then I’ll start to believe that there’s part of me that is shameful,” said Antoun Issa, a gay man.
Some queer people even feel guilty for disappointing their past selves. “I feel guilt when I look at a girl because I think about my younger self and how she would never expect this,” said Kasey Williams*, a bisexual sophomore at Leesville.
Queer students face harassment and bullying, one school property, 14.9% more than their cishet peers, says stopbullying.gov.
“Sometimes I deal with homophobia and transphobia… but I don’t really care,” said Smith.
The support of friends and family can help many queer kids not feel as affected by bullying; they know they have a support system that loves and understands them. “They helped me become more me,” said Smith.
A GLSEN study said that 28% of students dropout of school due to being bullied by peers.
There is a 60% increase in kids identifying as queer. Being queer in high school is a very difficult experience and for those who don’t have support from family and friends like others, living a queer life can be a scary experience.
Like Williams said, “I hope other people feel safe talking about their sexuality [and gender] without feeling uncomfortable.”