Category Archives: LGBTQ

End Homophobic Bullying in Schools

By Sarah Emily Baum, 18, Staff Writer

September 10, 2018

After nine-year-old Jamel Myles of Denver came out as gay, his mother reports that he confided in his sister that his classmates allegedly told him to kill himself. On August 24th, he did.

According to his mother, Jamel was a happy kid who just wanted to make others happy too. When he came out to her this past summer, she says she reassured him that she still loved him. He said he wanted to come out at school, too, because he was proud of who he was.

In the aftermath of Jamel’s suicide, there has been an online outpouring of love and support for young LGBTQ students. But there’s also been a surge of criticism—not of Jamel’s bullies, but of Jamel’s coming out.

One Twitter user wrote, “9 years old and already claiming to be gay? What? I hate to break it to society but every 9 year old boy thinks girls are icky. A horrible tragedy that could have been prevented.”

Another user called Jamel “brainwashed,” adding, “No kid that just turn 9 is thinking about sexuality and or if he was gay or straight.”

These comments reveal a misunderstanding about sexual orientation, especially in young people. Being LGB isn’t an “adult” topic; many children experience same-sex attraction, which is not necessarily sexual attraction. It’s normal and healthy for kids of all sexual orientations to have “crushes.” It’s also normal and healthy for kids not to have “crushes.”

The important issue around Jamel’s suicide is not whether children can really know their sexual orientation. What we need to talk more about is creating safer school environments for LGB youth who face bullying. Eighty-five percent of LGBTQ students faced verbal harassment at school and over 57 percent of LGB students said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, according to a 2015 survey from GLSEN. Being bullied is associated with an increase in the likelihood of suicidal feelings or behavior, according to a study conducted by Yale University, and LGB young people are five times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual teens, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

We can reduce suicide in LGBTQ youth by addressing homo-and transphobic bullying in schools. No child, regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, should be made to feel lesser because of it. These conversations need to be happening in schools. Not addressing homo- and transphobic bullying isolates some of the most vulnerable young people. But honest, open and proactive conversations surrounding sexual orientation fosters a culture of acceptance, so that kids like Jamel never have to feel alone again.


If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call The National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for confidential support, or get help from a parent, teacher or friend. You are not alone.

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Why We Celebrate Pride

By Brooklyn Manga, 18, Contributor

June 26, 2018

At 15, I was a proud bisexual girl, even if I wasn’t vocal about it at school. Living in Georgia, I was pleased that the kids in my high school seemed progressive about LGBTQ rights. Until one day, a classmate said, “Why do the gays even need a pride month? If they want to be considered normal, why don’t they just act like it?” Several people chimed in. Even my teacher!

After I left class that day, I felt paranoid. I thought for sure that everybody knew I was bisexual, and they were disgusted by it. I started to question my pride, my identity. Little did I know then that this was an experience all too familiar to members of the LGBTQ community.

The story of LGBT Pride Month started on June 28, 1969, when a raid—led by the Public Moral Squad, a now-defunct section of the NYC Police Department—occurred at a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. These raids were common at gay bars across New York City and getting arrested could have dire consequences for those outed, including losing jobs and being kicked out of homes or assaulted.

This raid was like any other until a trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson changed LGBTQ history forever. As one story goes (and there are many different stories about what happened), Johnson threw her shot glass at the mirror as officers fought with the people in the bar and shouted, “I got my civil rights!” People threw rocks, bricks and whatever else they could find at the police. Soon, there were hundreds of people standing up to the police. The now-called “Stonewall Uprising” or “Stonewall Rebellion” lasted for days. After the uprising, LGBTQ activist groups were formed, and the modern-day LGBT liberation movement was born.

In spite of calls to be “out and proud,” my insecurities surrounding my sexual identity remain with me, and I battle with internalized homophobia every day. But when I think about the story of how far we’ve come, the barriers we have broken and the strength that comes from even being able to admit to ourselves that we do not fit the template set out for us, I feel hope. Even if we can’t always be loud, we can be proud. We deserve to be.

In other words, this is our heritage, my story and our story, and the reason why we celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month. Every year, on June 28th, we celebrate more walls broken; we celebrate the marriages, the love, the pride, the courage and everything else that comes with being a part of the LGBTQ community.


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Love, Simon Is a Love Letter to LGB People

By Isabella Gonzalez, 17, Staff Writer

March 29, 2018

Whenever my girlfriend and I go see a movie, we always lock lips when a kissing scene happens. Of course, it’s a way to make the date more intimate, but it’s also our small way of upsetting heterosexual norms. Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. in 2015, as a bisexual person I don’t feel represented on the big screen. Three years later, Love, Simon offers hope that maybe I won’t have to rely on silly fan theories, like the theory that those two background characters from Finding Dory are lesbians, to feel represented in films.

Love, Simon, based on a young adult novel, is a romantic comedy starring Nick Robinson as the title teen, Simon Spier. From the start of the film, Simon states that he is “just like you.” He comes from a good family, has a tight-knit group of friends and loves Hamilton. But behind his perfect life, Simon is hiding in the closet, not sharing that he’s gay with anyone. His secret doesn’t stay with him for long once he starts emailing an anonymous gay student using the alias “Blue.”

Considering the fact that Love, Simon is the first high-profile, gay-centric teen romance to be made by a major film studio and distributed nationwide, there were lots of expectations, pressures and controversy about the movie. From casting a heterosexual actor as the lead to Simon being seen as “too white privilege,” Love, Simon has faced its fair share of critics, even with a 91-percent Rotten Tomatoes score. But for someone that’s recently openly bisexual, this movie hits home for me and my other LGB friends that teared up next to me in the theater. The film packs in lots of laughs and heartfelt moments, with scenes ranging from characters coming out as heterosexual to tearful confessions. The story isn’t anything new but is extremely cute and endearing.

Interestingly enough, the most impactful moment for me wasn’t just from the movie itself. When two boys confessed their love for each other and kissed, cheers throughout the theater erupted, shaking my recliner seat. When my girlfriend and I followed in the lip locking, it felt especially right. Hollywood is finally starting to take a close look at their audience. Now, give me the girl version of this love story!

Photo credit 20th Century Fox 

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Thankful When You’re LGBTQ

By Sarah Emily Baum, 17, Staff Writer

November 21, 2017

Considering I was still in utero at the turn of the millennium, it feels strange for me to say, “When I was a kid…” about anything. But I could finish that sentence with “We didn’t have YouTube” or “iPhones weren’t a thing” or even “Same-sex couples couldn’t get married.” Now, all of these things feel commonplace, if not outdated. The world has changed so rapidly, sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have these rights: same-sex couples can legally get married, adopt children and have the same future that my cisgender, heterosexual peers never have to think twice about.

That’s the thing about having “straight privilege”; it isn’t so much what you have, but rather, what you don’t have to think twice about. You’ll never have to live a secret double life, stuck halfway between in and out of the closet. You don’t have to worry about erasing the pronouns from your love poems for writing class. You don’t have to fear your family will stop loving you if they see you holding hands with the person you love.

And thankfully I don’t have to worry or fear any of these things either because I have friends and family who accept me as part of the LGBTQ community.

Around Thanksgiving, I remind myself to be thankful I have someone to go home to for the holidays. I’m thankful for the laws that protect me from homophobic harassment at school, a protection not all states have. I’m thankful I get to grow up in a time where I can dream of having my own family one day, even as a gay person. I am incredibly lucky.

During this time of year, I think about those who may have lost family, safety or stability when they came out. If you or anyone you know is at risk because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, there are resources to help, such as The Trevor Project, which has a 24/7 hotline available for LGBTQ youth in crisis. You can also reach out to friends, find an online support group or join the gay-straight alliance at your school (if there is one).

No one deserves to be alone because of their LGBTQ identity. And thankfully, with so many accessible tools connecting us to one another, no one ever really is.

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Degrassi Features Gender-fluid Character

By Ashley Fowler, 18, Staff Writer

October 24, 2017

The Degrassi franchise (which first showed up in the late 1970s and includes several different TV shows) has continued its trend of tackling difficult topics relevant to teens. The latest season of Degrassi: Next Class, seen on Netflix, features the coming-out story of a nonbinary teen. This makes Degrassi: Next Class one of the first shows to have a main character identify as gender-fluid.

Yael, the nonbinary character, struggles with their gender identity before the episode where they become familiar with the terms “genderqueer” and “gender-fluid.” Earlier in the season, they begin to bind their breasts and question their identity as female. Eventually, Yael kisses their friend Lola, thinking their confusion may stem from being gay. After determining that they aren’t gay and still like their boyfriend Hunter, Yael explains to Lola, “I feel in between. I don’t feel like a girl, or what everyone thinks is a girl. I don’t like makeup and stuff like you do. I really, really hate my boobs. But I don’t feel like a boy either. And I’m definitely not gay.” Lola then introduces the words “genderqueer” and “gender-fluid” to Yael, explaining that they are for someone who doesn’t feel male or female. Yael is happy to have found names for the complex feelings they were experiencing regarding their gender.

Although many viewers were happy with the show’s willingness to feature a nonbinary character, some complained that Yael is played by cisgender actress Jamie Bloch. According to the show’s co-executive producer Matt Huether, the idea for Yael to come out as nonbinary developed once Bloch had already been playing the character for multiple seasons. He says in an interview with the online publication Vulture, “Yael starts out the series as cisgender presenting. To be honest, for the first couple of seasons we knew…that Yael would be uncomfortable with [their] own body and self, but we didn’t know what the endpoint was yet.” Huether elaborates, saying it wasn’t until the producers visited a Toronto high school’s queer–straight alliance that they found inspiration for Bloch’s character development.

Television has an awesome opportunity to destigmatize marginalized groups within our culture and bring about awareness and change. To viewers who may not identify as male or female, watching Yael’s experience and acceptance by friends may encourage others to understand their gender identity. Seeing nonbinary people represented in books, TV shows and other media can break down some of the barriers that prevent people from being open about their gender identity. It can also encourage all viewers to think critically about issues that marginalized groups, such as nonbinary people, face today.

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Coming Out: Three Things to Know

By Sarah Emily Baum, 17, Staff Writer

October 6, 2017

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not.

I wasn’t always this comfortable talking about my sexual orientation. It took years for me to get where I am, but now, I can finally say I am out, proud and happy.

However, as we celebrate National Coming Out Day on October 11th, it’s important to remember not everyone feels safe coming out. Some LGBTQ people may get bullied in school, fired from their job or rejected by their family. National Coming Out Day may seem like it’s only for people who can proudly wave rainbow flags and lead the pride parade, but what if you aren’t ready to come out yet? This is a day to help improve that—a chance to increase visibility for LGBTQ people and hear their stories. Whether you’re still unsure of your identity or you feel unsafe because of it, know you are still loved, valid and no less brave and amazing for being who you are.

When you’re ready to come out, you’ll know; but before you do, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Nobody Is Entitled to Know Your Identity

The first person I came out to was not my mom. It wasn’t my therapist. It wasn’t my best friend, or my second best friend or my third.  It was some girl I met in the park when I was 12. She said she was gay, and I said, “No way! I’m gay too!” and that was the first time I had ever said it out loud.

I never saw her again.

In fact, the people closest to me tended to be the very last to know. It was easier to come out to other kids online because if they judged me, I could just walk away without any repercussions. Meanwhile, I thought if my parents reacted badly, there would be no way to escape the consequences.

Thankfully my parents were supportive when I came out, even if they were displeased with the fact they were dead last to know. I had come out to my camp counselor, my rabbi, even my congressman before I told my mother and father.

But it wasn’t indicative of how much I care about my parents. It wasn’t me trying to “pull a fast one.” It was just who I was comfortable with, when I was comfortable with it.

Coming out is YOUR journey. It is YOUR identity. You can come out to whoever you want, whenever you want, and deciding not to tell someone doesn’t make you deceitful or manipulative. This is about you. No one is entitled to know about something so deeply personal if you don’t want to share it.

No One Can Define Your Identity but You

Do you identify as a lesbian even though you like boys sometimes? That’s fine.

Are you bisexual but you’ve only ever dated girls? No problem.

Are you pansexual, asexual, demisexual, genderqueer, nonbinary or something else altogether? That’s all right!

Just because you may not be learning about sexual orientation and gender identity at school doesn’t mean your identity isn’t valid. After all, things like gender and sexual orientation are strict categories made up to classify and organize a part of the human experience that, in actuality, includes grey areas.

The only person who truly knows your sexual orientation or gender identity is you. Don’t let anyone force you into a label that doesn’t feel like the right fit. Some people never pick a label at all!

Give It Time

Coming out is not a “one and done” endeavor.

Coming out is a process. Most people are assumed to be heterosexual and cisgender, so you’ll probably come out to lots of people over time.

The idea of coming out as this perpetual journey can be daunting, even exhausting. But it will get easier. Your family might be taking it harshly, your friend might be acting awkward. But if they genuinely love and care for you, they will hopefully overcome that.

And though you may lose some people, there will always be others who love and accept you as you are.

Just keep searching. You’ll find each other.

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LGBTQ TV—a Great Escape

By Gillian Hatcher, 18, Staff Writer

March 10, 2017

What’s going on in the world has many people feeling afraid, stressed out, overwhelmed and just all around not good. I for one am not immune to those feelings. One thing that I find a lot of comfort in during hard times is TV shows. I look to them to escape reality for a while and to enter a seemingly easier world where problems can be cleared up at the end of an episode or a season. Personally, as a queer woman, I like to watch very LGBTQ+ positive shows, and I have complied a list of the best ones I have come across in my travels.


Since its release, this Netflix sci-fi series has gotten both viewer and critical acclaim, and I think it’s well deserved. Sense8 is the story of eight strangers who realize that they are all mysteriously connected after each experiencing the same vision. The characters are all from different backgrounds and parts of the world and are diverse in race, sexual orientation and gender. To top it all off, the show was written by the Wachowski sisters, who are both transwomen. You can watch season one plus their Christmas special on Netflix now.

Take My Wife

This sitcom is about the lives of real-life married couple and comedians Carmen Esposito and Rhea Butcher. The show is a dramatized version of things that actually happened to them as they work their way to becoming famous comedians. I love and recommend this show because it feels like any old sitcom you would watch. Carmen and Rhea deal with money troubles, finding jobs, relationships and all the normal sitcom stuff, but there is a fresh take on it since they are a lesbian couple. It is also wonderful to see a lesbian couple portrayed like, well, a normal couple in a TV show. Oh, and it’s pretty funny too. Take My Wife season one is available on Amazon.

Yuri!!! on Ice

This anime series is so good that someone like me, who doesn’t watch anime, fell in love with it. It’s about a young Japanese figure skater, Yuri Katsuki, who isn’t doing so well professionally until his idol (Victor Nikiforov, the world’s top figure skater) shows up one day and offers to be his coach. This show portrays a loving gay relationship flourishing in an environment free of hate. The creator, Mitsurō Kubo, has stated that the world she created has no hate in it and that everyone is supportive of different sexual orientations. With loveable characters, a great plot and even an adorable dog, there is nothing to not love about Yuri!!! on Ice. I highly recommend it. Season one is available on Crunchyroll.

I’ve always been someone who used TV shows to escape, and I find the most comfort in the worlds that shows like Sense8, Take My Wife, and Yuri!!! on Ice create—worlds that are so full of diversity and celebrate that diversity. Maybe it’s just the dreamer in me that likes to watch these shows because I think that one day we could have that kind of world and that with a lot of work and love we could all celebrate the diversity that makes this world what it is. Even if it’s not like that now, for the next thirty minutes while I watch Yuri skate, it is.

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Four Great Sexual Health Apps

By Gillian Hatcher, 18, Staff Writer

February 14, 2017

We all have our phones on us most of the day, and we all use at least five apps a day, so why not add a few great sexual health apps?

Recently, Answer—the organization that publishes Sex, Etc.—published a report in which they asked teens to use and review apps and other web-based digital tools related to sexual health. The report looks at what is working in the world of sexual health digital tools and recommends how organizations in the field of sexual and reproductive health can do an even better job of using technology to provide us with accurate sexual health info.

Here are four apps that received all-around high praise!

Bedsider’s Birth Control Reminders

This is an app for people like me who always need a reminder to take their birth control. The cool thing about this app is that each day you get to learn a weird fact, get a beautiful quote or some new reading material, all while being reminded about your birth control of choice. Some of my favorites have been a link to a women’s literature list, the quote “There is a moon, that rests in the quiet corners of a lover’s lips” and insight into Cleopatra’s signature lipstick.

Circle of 6

I personally had all of my friends download this app. Circle of 6 allows you to keep in contact with your friends and family anytime: while you’re out and alone, feeling uncomfortable at a party or not feeling safe while on a date, for example. You can send a text to your “circle” with the press of a button, asking them to “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.” You can also easily send texts like “I’m home safe” and “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely” with your location. Circle of 6 makes it that much easier to have the support and help of your family and friends when you need it most.


Eve is not your normal period tracker app; it’s actually a lot more. Just like other period trackers, there are reminders when your period should start and a log to track all of your symptoms. But it also has a bunch of articles, quizzes and an active community you can participate in. Here you can talk to other people about their periods and share advice and tips to get through your period. It might be weird to call a period tracker app “fun,” but Eve is definitely a fun app to have on your phone.

Planned Parenthood Chat/Text

While Planned Parenthood Chat/Text isn’t an app, it is a great digital tool that you can access on your phone. Go to the Planned Parenthood website and click the “Chat Now” button. Through the chat, you can have your sexual questions answered by a professional. This tool is beyond valuable and something that you should use if you ever have a question about your sexual health and need a quick answer.

I hope that these apps make it onto your phone to stay. Are there other sexual health apps or digital tools that you love? Leave a comment below.

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Protesters March on Washington and All over the Globe

By Ashley Fowler, seventeen, Workers Author

January 27, 2017

On January twentieth, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of The usa. The following working day, millions of persons throughout the globe—in Washington, D.C., Sydney, Berlin, London, Paris, Nairobi, Cape Town and lots of more—gathered to protest. What started as an idea on Facebook grew to become a little something worldwide and unifying, as both equally gals and adult males gathered in solidarity. But what exactly had been they marching for, and how does it have an affect on teens?

The Women’s March on Washington’s web page has a person crystal clear information: women’s legal rights are human legal rights. Good reasons for marching consist of ending violence in direction of gals, preserving and bettering reproductive legal rights, LGBTQ legal rights, civil and disability legal rights and additional. Trump’s presidency has not been reassuring to all gals. His electric power to appoint a Supreme Court docket justice, alongside with his vocal disapproval of abortion and want to repeal the Very affordable Treatment Act, are just three of the stances that threaten women’s legal rights to wellbeing care. Quite a few gals are concerned about obtain to abortion and delivery command. LGBTQ legal rights are also in jeopardy, as Vice President Mike Pence opposes relationship equality and supports various anti-LGBTQ procedures. The protests also had lots of Black Lives Subject supporters and persons opposed to Trump’s concepts, like the proposed border wall.

“It’s so empowering to see gals collectively like this,” Alyssa, 19, of Philadelphia, PA suggests about the protest she attended in her hometown. “During the election and inauguration, it was quick to be discouraged, but coming to the protest nowadays was a palate cleanser from that. It is all peace and all like, but also a little little bit of struggle is in all of these gals. They are listed here to say they will struggle.”

Eyes are on Trump as he tends to make decisions about women’s legal rights. He could have an affect on wellbeing providers that teens rely on—like Planned Parenthood funding, obtain to delivery command and secure, authorized abortion. Just this week, Trump reinstated the ban on giving relatives planning funding to any world-wide wellbeing group that offers abortion providers or counsels gals on exactly where they can get abortions providers abroad. Quite a few of these corporations not only present relatives planning providers, but also condoms and HIV/AIDS counseling and instruction. Trump also expanded the arrive at of this ban so that it now applies to any world-wide wellbeing group, which includes these that also present wellbeing care for little ones. Legislation now exist to avoid the use of federal funding for abortion in the U.S. and abroad, so by reinstating and growing the “gag rule,” Trump is cutting funding for lots of other wellbeing providers as very well as delivery command, which helps avoid abortion.

It is vital that whichever you feel as a teenager, you stand up for these beliefs and help what you assume is appropriate. If the women’s marches confirmed the world anything, it is that gals and their allies are prepared to struggle. Now we should extend that struggle and use the enthusiasm of the march to get motion.

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LGB Olympians Out and Proud at the Rio Olympics

By Ashley Fowler, seventeen, Workers Writer

August 31, 2016

Eyes from all over the globe are on the Olympics just about every two decades, and 2016 was no unique. What was unique, on the other hand, was the number of overtly lesbian, homosexual or bisexual (LGB) individuals at this year’s Summer months Olympics in Rio de Janeiro., a web-site focusing on LGBT athletes and difficulties, estimates 55 homosexual, lesbian and bisexual athletes took part, which is 32 additional than the number of overtly LGB individuals in the London 2012 Summer months Games. This is not to say that the number of LGB individuals has risen fairly, this bigger number probable displays additional folks prepared to be out so publicly. These kinds of a dramatic improve displays positively on acceptance of LGB folks. Their visibility, much too, is noteworthy. For case in point, soon after taking part in a rugby game, Brazilian athlete Isadora Cerullo was proposed to by her girlfriend on the field. Cerullo reported certainly and then shared a kiss with her fiancée for all the world—gay and heterosexual—to find lovely.

Like I reported, it isn’t as even though LGBTQ folks have not been participating in the Olympics now! But this would seem to signify a cultural change. As some nations make strides towards acceptance and equality for all sexual orientations, individuals may experience safer sharing who they are. For occasion, the United States took a large action towards acceptance and equality just final yr, when the Supreme Courtroom ruled that the Structure guarantees the correct to marry to similar-intercourse partners. As visibility and acknowledgment of LGBTQ folks will increase, it can be safer and additional cozy for some folks to appear out.

Regretably, there are nevertheless individuals who are hateful and inconsiderate towards LGB folks, and this was no unique in the course of the Rio Games. For occasion, at an opening soccer match, supporters yelled homophobic slurs directed towards users of the U.S. women’s soccer staff. Perhaps the most important waves were being built by a journalist for The Each day Beast, who applied the homosexual courting application Grindr to find homosexual athletes for a story on partying and hookups among the Olympians. This careless, insensitive act had very an impact on closeted Olympians who applied the application, like some from nations where it is unsafe or unacceptable to be out. The printed report, which some reported built closeted athletes plainly identifiable, was taken down soon after folks objected, and there was a lot of backlash towards the journalist and The Each day Beast.

Although there is nevertheless surely a long way to go towards total acceptance and equality of LGBTQ folks, the number of out Olympians this yr is something for the LGB group to celebrate! Let’s hope that as additional folks appear out, figuring out as LGBTQ can 1 working day be so normalized that article content like this will no extended need to be written. Until eventually then, we can understand the Rio Olympics as becoming an brilliant milestone for international LGB representation.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Pictures

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