Category Archives: Acceptance

LGBTQ Bullying: It Needs to STOP

That’s so gay. She’s such a lesbo. Look at those pants, he’s so gay. What a fag. They’re such a homos.

How many times a day do you hear statements like these?

Approximately 1/4 of all high school students are bullied because of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation. About 90% of gay teens are bullied… and half of them report being physically harassed by their peers. Most of these kids feel unsafe going to school.

Can you imagine what that’s like?

Teens who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, or Questioning are 3 times more likely to commit suicide, 5 times more likely to skip school, and also very likely to drop out of school altogether. Many of them don’t further their education and go to college because they’re afraid the bullying will continue. I mean, really, can you see why they feel this way? Everyday is a battle for them. They can’t get away from the negative comments, the name-calling, the physical harassment.

Bullying happens lots of different ways:

  1. Verbal bullying: Calling names and saying negative things to a person’s face
  2. Physical bullying: pushing, shoving, hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, putting someone in a locker, anything else where you physically harm them
  3. Cyber bullying: Posting things online about a person, gossiping about someone via social media
  4. Indirect bullying: Gossiping about a person behind their back, spreading rumors, making comments like “that’s so gay” in front of someone who you know is gay

Whether you realize it or not, if you do any of these things, YOU ARE A BULLY.

Why do we treat each other this way? Like, seriously. When are we ever going to get over this? Will there ever be a day when people don’t feel like they have to pretend to be someone else, or like they’ll have to suffer if they don’t?

Although there is some progress, the LGBTQ community still gets an overwhelming message from society that being gay is wrong. So don’t make things harder for them.

Next time you see someone bullying a LGBTQ peer, speak up. Tell them it’s not cool. Stand behind the kid being bullied and tell the other kids to knock it off. Let them know that you accept them for who they are, and if they ever need anyone to talk to, they can trust you. Bullying is always wrong, and it’s really wrong when it happens because of someone’s sexual orientation. Really, who cares? Why does anyone care about anyone else’s sexuality? Let them be them, and you can be you! Don’t worry about it!

If YOU or a FRIEND are being bullied, here’s what you can do:

  • Tell a teacher, counselor, coach, or someone else at school. Tell them everything that’s been happening. If they don’t do anything about it, or you feel like they don’t do enough, talk to someone else. There ARE people who care and who will do everything to help you. You just need to tell them… don’t be embarrassed.
  • Let your parents know everything that’s been going on.
  • If necessary, tell the authorities and press charges.
  • There are several hotlines you can call for help, or even if you just need someone to talk to: GLBT National Help Center (1-800-246-PRIDE), The Trevor Project Hotline (1- 866-488-7386 or text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200 or chat on their website, http://www.thetrevorproject.org), or The National Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-TALK),

LGBTQ bullying needs to stop, but it’s never going to if we all continue to say and do things that make it hard on everyone in that community. That means you need to quit saying “that’s so gay” and calling your friends “fags,” even if it is a joke. We’re getting closer and closer to getting past this, guys… but we need to do it together.

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Cliques Aren’t Cool

When you’re at school, sure, you usually hang out with the same people everyday. Or maybe you have a few different groups you hang with. Makes sense… they’re probably people that you have a lot in common with. It isn’t bad to have a group of friends, or to hang with the same people. It only gets bad when you and your friends become “clique-y.”

A “clique” is a tight group of friends that have a strict code of membership and ways to act. They’re not so much about the friendships, but more about maintaining their status and popularity. Sometimes they use their status and power to exclude and be mean to other people. A group of girls might laugh and make fun of another group of girls they pass by in the halls, to make them feel not as cool as them… or they might get mad at a girl in their own group for wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, and not dressing up like them everyday.

If you feel like you’re in the middle of a drama-filled high school movie… your friends are probably too clique-y.

Obviously, girls aren’t the only ones in cliques. While girls usually form their cliques around style and fashion, guys tend to form cliques around a sport, video game, or music.

Cliques can lead to bullying, and that’s something you don’t want to have any part in. There’s no sense in making someone feel bad and like they aren’t as “cool” as you, just because you so desperately want to be cool yourself and fit in, Really… is it worth it? Is it worth being a jerk to someone, just so you can impress your supposed “friends?” Do you REALLY think they’re your friends, if that’s what it takes for them to like you?

Again, being in different groups isn’t bad at all. Maybe you hang with your soccer friends sometimes, your choir friends other times, and the other girls who share your love for reality shows at other times. That’s perfectly normal, and JUST FINE. You should be hanging with people you feel comfortable with, and that you share similar interests with.

It only becomes a problem if you and your friends become obsessed with your status and start bullying other people because of it. Usually, people in cliques aren’t true friends. They’re bossy and demanding. They tell you how you should dress, how you should act, what you should say. Who needs friends like that?

Always remember to be TRUE TO YOURSELF. Make sure you always do the things you love, listen to music you enjoy, and dress how you want to dress. If anyone else isn’t cool with that, you don’t need them. Make sure that all of your friends are cool with you for who you really are.

If one of your friends is getting clique-y and is being a jerk to other people, tell them. Tell them they’re being ridiculous and they need to stop. Be kind and sensitive towards others… you wouldn’t want someone else to be mean to you, or any of your friends. Also don’t let them pressure you. Who cares if they’re giving you a hard time about hanging with that other guy that’s “too lame”? Don’t quit hanging out with him if you enjoy his friendship. YOU are responsible for your own actions. Have a mind of your own.

One thing that seems to be true in most high schools, is that usually it seems to be underclassmen who are more obsessed with cliques and popularity. Once high schoolers get older, they realize that it doesn’t really matter. It isn’t worth it. After high school, nobody will care that you were on homecoming court. All the status and popularity points will disappear. So do you really want to work that hard and sacrifice that much for something that only lasts 4 years??

It’s pretty simple… if you want good friends, BE A GOOD FRIEND. Be a good listener. Be caring. Always check in with your friends to see how things are going. Don’t be mean. Don’t be rude or make anyone feel bad. Be the type of friend you want other people to be to you. Don’t get mixed up in the lame high school drama.

Gender Roles & Expectations: Just Be YOU!

Girls and boys are born different. Girls like makeup, Barbie’s, painting their nails, and pink; boys like trucks, sports, and playing in the dirt. That’s just how it is… We can’t help it, we’re just programmed differently. 

Right?

Not necessarily.

Many people don’t understand the difference between sex and gender. Sex is biological. So, sex is how male and female’s bodies are different. Gender, however, has more to do with their personality and how they identify themselves. Gender roles, more specifically, are the expectations of how a person should act, dress, and talk based on their sex.

For instance… girls are not born loving all things pink and boys are not born loving all things sports. Rather, the majority of girls learn to like “feminine” things and boys learn to like “masculine” things because of the expectations society has for girls and boys. People buy baby girls certain things, and baby boys other things. Girls are dressed a certain way, boys are dressed a certain way. On TV and in movies, men and women are portrayed differently. Men are tough and strong, women are emotional and nurturing.

Am I saying that there’s anything wrong with girls being feminine and boys being masculine? Absolutely not. I’m a girl, and I love pink, shopping, makeup, and accessories. My husband loves sports, hunting, and video games. There is nothing at all wrong with that… that’s the way WE are.

But there IS something wrong when people are afraid to be who they are, so they conform to society’s standards. It’s wrong when boys get made fun of for enjoying things like singing and dancing, and when girls get made of for not wearing makeup and playing football. 

Given, for some reason, society is a lot more lenient on masculine girls than feminine boys. It’s kind of okay for girls to be tomboys, but it is never okay for boys to be sissy’s. Boys are under a lot more pressure to be a certain way than girls are. But, nonetheless, girls are also under a certain amount of pressure, too. 

Gender roles are limiting because people feel pressure to act a certain way, other than who they really are, just to fit it and avoid being made fun of. Why is society like that? Why can’t people just express themselves and do the things they love, without worrying about what other people might think?

If you feel like you aren’t masculine or feminine enough, I encourage you to JUST BE YOU. Who cares. Express yourself. Do what you love. Don’t put on a show for anybody. Don’t fake it and be miserable when you can be yourself and do things that make you happy.

In the same way, for others of you, stop making fun of the boy on the dance team. He loves to dance! Who cares? More power to him. Stop making fun of the girl who wears baggy T-shirts and basketball shorts everyday. That’s her style, just like you have your style. Who cares?

Nobody deserves to be made fun of or have to hide who they really are. JUST BE YOURSELF! If anyone chooses to make fun of you, that’s their problem. Don’t let it get to you.

Embracing Diversity

I don’t know about you, but I love to people watch. Not in a creepy way at all, but I just find it fascinating how each and every person is so radically different! Not only are they unique with their physical attributes, but their background in which they come from. Not two people in this world have shared the exact same experiences. Although they might have been a part of the same event, they each perceive and process it so differently. I think this is absolutely beautiful! All people view the world from their own, unique set of eyes.

ImageIt’s easy to assume things based on someone’s appearance or circumstance. So many of us place labels on others based on their gender, their race, sexual orientation, what they wear, their hobbies, or just anything that we find about them that is different than ourselves. Many feel that if they tear down another group it would somehow make them look more superior. When in reality, it doesn’t do good for anyone at all! It is just plain hurtful . Just because one’s genes, experiences or interests make them stand out amongst the rest, does not give anyone the right to put them down.

What if instead of teasing someone for being different, we loved them for that uniqueness about them? What if we strove to embrace the areas in which we may not agree or understand? The world could be completely transformed if only we choose to adjust our mindset of how we view others. All change begins with treating others the way we would like to be treated. The next time you see someone being picked on, stand up for them! They are human, which gives them the right to be love and accepted for who they are. Don’t forget the power you hold to influence someone’s life! Be the person who is passionate about diversity and set that example to those around you!

Dealing with Family Drama

There is no doubt that every family is dysfunctional (even the ones who look like they have a perfect family, DON’T) and has some drama in their lives. For instance, sisters constantly bickering and trying to out-do the other, or a father who is only invested in his son if he is athletic and successful, or a mother who is over critical of her daughters. Some form of drama has effected our lives one way or another. Maybe a friend you know has runaway from home, or is cutting themselves to escape the pain, or does drugs to numb the mind and body to escape. You are not alone.

Did you know

Half of all runaways left home because of a disagreement with a parent or guardian.

Please know that are other ways to deal with family drama than running away or hurting yourself by cutting or drugs. It is agreed that a certain amount of time away from the conflict can help calm people down or help put things in perspective, but don’t let that time span increase too much. Sometimes that can do more harm than good.

Here are a few suggestions to dealing with family drama. One of the first few things to try is family mediation. Usually these services don’t cost much, if anything, and is set up with everyone in mind. Typically there is someone around your age that is advocating (aka speaking for/supporting) you and there is someone there to advocate for your parent(s)/guardian(s) while you both try to sort out your differences, with some extra help, of course. If you want more information on family mediation, stop by Youth Outreach and we can help you set up an appointment with one in our county. If you aren’t able to find a place that offers family mediation, you can always talk to a school counselor or teacher.

 It is also important to look at those individuals in our lives and think about where they came from, what childhood they may have had, and what life experiences they endured. By doing this, you are able to see why they are acting a certain way or doing a certain something. It may help you put things into perspective, although it may not be easy.

Depending on the situation, you can always set up a board that allows everyone to write down messages on things that are bothering them so that nothing builds up and explodes

Write down your feelings in a journal. This will help sort out feelings you have and really help you figure out exactly what you want to say. 

Go workout or get involved in some extracurricular activity that can help you express your frustration or emotions. This may look like joining an art class or theater class or if you need something that you can really take your anger out on, join a sports club. The point of this is to get your aggression out, but not on others.

These are just a few ideas on how to deal with family drama before taking more extreme measures. If you have any, please post them because they could help someone else!