The LGBT+ community at FA is very, very small, as far as we know. Only one or two people feel comfortable sharing their sexual orientation at FA, which is astonishingly small considering that a recent study showed that less than 50% of teens identify as heterosexual (http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2016/3/11/less-50-teens-identify-straight-says-new-study).
At the Inkwell meeting when we discussed what topics we were doing, people gave me sources that I could use to get a better understanding of why people aren’t coming out at FA. I didn’t need any of those sources though. I don’t need any sources other than what I have personally heard in the hallways, the vandalism in the boys bathroom on the second floor, and my own personal experiences. Friends is generally an accepting place but closeted people don’t feel safe since boys write unspeakably homophobic things on the bathroom wall. Some of said vandalism had homophobic slurs, used gay as a derogatory term, and some of the vandalism had things I can’t repeat. It doesn’t feel nice when you’re in the closet and don’t feel comfortable with your sexuality. Homophobic slurs written on the bathroom wall most certainly don’t help someone who is closeted feel comfortable in their school. Hearing things like “that’s so gay” or “no homo” doesn’t help either, as it makes it seem like being gay is a bad thing. It brings a negative connotation to the word, making people uncomfortable with their sexual orientation even though being gay isn’t a bad thing. However people saying those things make it seem like being gay is a bad thing.
Another word/term that doesn’t help people come out of the closet, is "GBF." If you have been living under a rock for the past couple years, the term GBF stands for “Gay Best Friend”. This term is most commonly used by girls who really just want a flamboyant gay boy to tell them they look ”fierce” or “fabulous” or to say “YAS QUEEN” to them. The problem with this is it perpetuates the stereotype of gay men, and it treats them like they aren’t people but more like accessories to flaunt around to all your friends. Another problem with this is no person wants a lesbian GBF. It's always a male GBF that people, mainly girls, want, which shows a sort of misogyny within FA's community. If you haven’t seen the movie “GBF,” I highly recommend watching it as it accurately depicts what being labeled a GBF is like for a gay person.
But enough with all this talk about the LGB part of LGBT+. Some of you may recall that senior Julia Vascotto spoke in meeting a while back to talk about a board that is very near and dear to her. The GSA board that Julia had made herself was vandalised with water by students that are still unknown. This is the second time that a board run by the GSA has been vandalised, and it is truly disgusting to know that a person was so provoked by a board about equality, one of the Quaker SPICES, that they threw water on a board that a student had made herself. Like with the vandalism in the boys bathroom, this does not make LGBT+ students feel comfortable at FA.
The burning question is, “How can I contribute to making FA more accepting of people who are LGBT+ in our school?” The answer is quite simple: treat them as normal people. Keep in mind that if a person is still in the closet, it is VITAL AND NECESSARY NOT TO TELL PEOPLE. It is so important that you don’t tell people about that person’s sexuality or gender identity if that person is not out yet, because that could drastically affect that person’s life. If you told people that that person is gay, bi, trans, non binary etc. and that person is not out yet, that could impact where that person is sleeping for the night, impact that person emotionally, and could ruin a lot of relationships that person has.
In short, treat the LGBT+ community like you would treat any other human person. You may not know this, but gays, lesbians, trans people, bisexuals etc. are all around us. You just don't know it yet because they don't feel comfortable revealing something about themselves that they have been taught to hate. Teach them to love themselves by showing compassion, kindness, and above all, support. Show them that they are accepted and have people on their side.