Coming out at school

Homophobia is the word we use to describe a ‘dislike’, ‘hatred’ or ‘fear’ of people who are or who we think are gay.

Transphobia is similar but is aimed at people who are or we believe to be trans

Bullying someone because of who they are or who we think they are is NOT ok.

There is never an acceptable reason to bully someone. All schools by law must have an anti-bullying policy and this should also specifically include homophobic and transphobic bullying.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always stop it from happening though. Some schools and colleges are better than others. If you, or someone you know, is being bullied you can report this to a teacher or a member of the pastoral staff. You’ll know which members of staff you can trust and you can approach for support. Talk to them, tell them how you feel and ask them for help.

Remember it is never acceptable to bully someone. Someone else’s sexuality or gender is not your business; just as yours is nothing to do with them either.

Being the first person to come out in your year group or in your school even is not easy. Unfortunately, as with most things in school, a lot depends on your social standing – or the reaction of the cool kids around you. As young people we are all desperate to fit in – if your closest friends support you then the rest seem to follow suit. The fact is we can all sometimes follow the group mentality.

There are plenty of young people who are openly gay and they haven’t had any problems when they came-out at school. But there are equally as many for whom high school has turned into a nightmare due to some people’s reactions. As a result, you can understand why many people choose not to come out.

Remember, people who choose not to come out are not cowards – your sexuality is your business.

Only you should choose who and what to tell to whom. But also be aware that you don’t have to do everything on your own either. Make sure you have people around you, whether they are your friends, family or services that you can trust and speak openly and honestly with without fear of being judged.

Talking can help and you are never on your own.

Organisations that can help

© Going off the Rails 2012. Adapted from ‘Playing Downstairs’ by Jonny Hunt

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