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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.

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.

Self-esteem: Start being more positive!

Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which individuals view him/herself as inadequate, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent. It could be because of their body, how smart they think they are, how talented they think they are, or anything else. Essentially, it’s all about how much you feel you are worth and also how much you feel other people value you.

Among high school students, 44% of girls and 15% of guys are trying to lose weight, and 70% of students believe they are not good enough in some way. Teens who have low self-esteem are very likely to become depressed, cut themselves, commit suicide, develop and eating disorder and begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

The main cause of low self-esteem is looks. Whether someone wears plus-size pants, has too many freckles, or has frizzy hair, everybody has something they don’t like about themselves. People develop ideas of how they “should” look based on media images, and what their peers say. Teens look at what celebrities look like and feel like they should look like that, and there must be something wrong with them if they don’t. They think girls are only beautiful if they wear a size 2, lots of makeup, and have “perfect” hair, and that guys are only attractive if they’re “manly” and muscular. Teens also tease each other about the way they look, and that usually causes the victim of the bullying to feel poorly about themselves. For some reason, a lot of people think it makes them look good if they make someone else look bad.

Here’s what you should do if you feel bad about yourself:

  1. Find friends who like and appreciate you for who you are. Don’t try to fit in with a certain clique because you want to be cool. If someone’s your real friend, you won’t have to impress them in order for them to like you. Your friends should also be encouraging and uplifting, and not put you down.
  2. Have a positive, optimistic attitude. Sure, there are probably certain things you’re not so good at… you’re human, you’re not going to be perfect. But remember all the things you ARE good at!
  3. When you start telling yourself negative things, just stop. Instead, think about positive things about yourself and give yourself compliments!
  4. If you’re unhappy with your looks, think about things you could realistically change if you really want to. You won’t be able to do anything about your nose, but you could change the shape of your eyebrows, or tone up your arm muscles. Set some realistic goals and think of ways you can achieve them.
  5. Eat healthy and exercise. Being healthier will make you feel better about the way you look.

If you begin doing all these things, you’ll start feeling better about yourself. If you’re worried that a friend might have low self-esteem, encourage them and start letting them know how great you think they are.

If you or your friend really start feeling depressed and nothing seems to be working, tell a parent, teacher, coach, or counselor. Make sure it’s someone you can trust, someone who you KNOW will be encouraging and uplifting. They can help you or your friend with any self-esteem issues. Or call a local or national teen crisis hotline to get help. We are all beautiful and unique in our own way, nobody should feel like they aren’t valued!

Cyberbullying: Get Help!

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Now that virtually every teenager in America has a cell phone and access to the internet, “cyberbullying” is a new category of bullying that is affecting thousands of teens every single day.

Cyberbullying refers to any bullying that occurs using electronic technology, whether it be cell phones, computers, or tablets, and using things like social media sites, texting, chatting, and other websites to post or message hurtful things about somebody else. This can include saying mean things about the person, spreading rumors, embarrassing pictures or videos, or fake profiles that are used to target somebody. Whether these things are posted for the public to see or only sent to certain people, it is all considered cyberbullying.

Many people consider cyberbullying to be the worst kind of bullying, because:

  • it can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach kids wherever they are
  • messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience
  • it can be difficult/impossible to trace the source
  • deleting those messages, texts, and pictures/videos can be difficult after they’ve been posted/sent

Kids who have been cyberbullied can be effected in several ways. They could:

  • begin using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain
  • skip school to avoid bullying
  • experience in-person bullying because of the cyberbullying
  • be unwilling to attend school in fear of being bullied
  • receive poor grades due to lack of motivation
  • have lower self-esteem
  • have more health problems due to stress

If you, your child, or your friend seem to be a victim of cyberbullying, there are several things you should do. First, do NOT respond to the messages or posts, or forward them to anybody else. Responding will only create more problems. Just ignore them.

Make sure you keep the evidence: record the date and times of when the bullying occurred. Save and print emails and texts, and take screen shots of anything posted on a social media site or other website. You can use these to report cyberbullying to your web and cell phone providers, and also to the website. Make sure you block the person from being able to contact you on a social media site, and by phone.

It may also be necessary to report the bullying to law enforcement. This is appropriate when you feel there are threats of violence, sexually explicit messages/photos, stalking and hate crimes, and if the bully is taking photos/videos of someone in a place where they would expect privacy.

It is ALWAYS necessary to report cyberbullying to the school the victim attends. By law, schools are required to take some kind of action in cases of cyberbullying. Since cyberbullying can often be related to in-person bullying, the school can respond and prevent that from happening.

If you believe you are being cyberbullied, you are not alone. Studies show that about HALF of teenagers get cyberbullied at some point, and about 15% of them experience it regularly. If this is happening to you or a friend, report it and get help. Nobody should ever have to put up with any kind of bullying.