Bullying is one of the biggest problems that face the LGBTQ community. A lot of youth within the community and the problem isn’t new to adults or students in schools. When people feel unsafe in their communities as a result of their sexual orientation, community allies must take action to combat it.
If you want to overcome bullying and make a difference with the people and community around you, you can approach youth who have previously faced or are currently facing bullying to learn. They will help you understand what adults, educators, and their parents can do to show them full support and put an end to bullying.
We talked to a few youth about bullying and here’s what they think you should know to help them stop this vice.
Normalize gender as a spectrum
Parents, educators, and other adults should normalize referring to LGBTQ youth with their pronouns. It is important that LGBTQ+ identities are normalized. Adults should accept more representation of LGBTQ youth into communities and offer more resources to queer youth.
Sometimes, even when an adult doesn’t have an answer for a queer question, it’s ok. However, what’s not ok is not addressing issues that come up against LGBTQ youth. Being complacent only feeds into the bullying and the negative experience by LGBTQ people.
Believe it when people say they are being bullied
When someone says they’ve been bullied, believe them. Learn to figure out the signs that point out to someone who is being bullied. Some people may not open up and acknowledge that they’re being bullied. Bullying can happen at home, in the community, or even in school and various points in life.
Remind any LGBTQ youth that’s going through bullying that they aren’t alone. Asking them to ignore it will not make bullying magically go away. Be honest about what people go through when they’re bullied.
If you’ve been bullied before, tell them about it and be vulnerable. Have an open conversation with the person who is being bullied and expressly ask them how you can help or support them. Sometimes, it helps when there’s someone you can connect to.
Social Support Structures
LGBTQ youth need social support structures in order to develop healthy and strong sense of self. While times have changed, LGBTQ youth are still surrounded by cultural traditions and beliefs that still tell them how much their identity is wrong, and sometimes, even evil.
Parents, educators, and adults around LGBTQ youth can combat situations of bullying by talking about such people in a humanizing way. People in positions of authority can set the expectations, tone and demand for acceptable behaviour when it comes to ethical and humane treatment of LGBTQ youth.
Educators, parents, people in authority, and other adults can create more equitable and inclusive environments for LGBTQ youth facing bullying thus combating negative views and setting the tone for LGBTQ people. If schools have an anti-bullying programme, it would help if peers were enrolled in it.