What is it like to identify as bisexual in high school and at home?
The Webster Dictionary defines the word bisexual as "of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward both sexes". To many people it is not just a definition on paper, but their identity. LGBT youths often struggle with accepting their sexuality in many settings such as at school or at home. The second highest cause of bullying is actual/assumed sexual orientation and gender identity. While many more people are accepting of LGBT youth these days, a lot of others and still expressing homophobic ideas through cruel words and disapproval.
High school is often when teens find themselves and truly figure out who they are and their identity. In high school you make some great, accepting friends and when I interviewed my close friend, Violet Hayes*, I asked if she felt that she had been accepted by the friends she chose to come out to. She answered by saying "Yes, some of my closest friends are gay themselves, so i feel that they, and some of my straight friends too, understand, except I still haven't told my religious friends yet because their view may cause them to frown upon my sexuality". However, some factors in school can make people not comfortable in who they are and make them feel like they are wrong for being themselves. According to GLSEN, students constantly hear derogatory comments like "homo", "fag", or "sissy" more than two dozen times per day. That's one degrading phrase per eververy fifteen minutes of each day! A lot of students don't even think about the words they throw around and what they mean before they say them. However, other than random derogatory slang for being gay, there is serious bullying that often occurs for LGBT youth individuals. 23.7% of all students report being bullied at school and compared to that, 86% of LGBT youth report being harassed at school. Over time people have become more accepting towards these individuals and their sexualities but there are still some who shame. Anna Agnes from The Huffington Post, wrote about her experiences with coming to terms with her bisexuality and coming out. In this article she stated "in high school I was told by a trusted mental health professional that i would "have to choose" between dating men and dating women". So while I acknowledge that many of these kids peers have no problem with them being LGBT (75%), the other 25% are still expressing homophobic thoughts and views publicly and harassing individuals.
How you are treated at home by your siblings and parents has a huge impact on you and the rest of your life. Creating a positive home environment helps prepare students to be ready and capable of learning new, challenging information. When parents are nurturing, accepting, and encouraging, kids often get better grades and achieve more goals in school. However, when teens come from disapproving, negative home environments, they often do worse in school, and often deal with depression. I asked my close friend, Violet Hayes*, about her homophobic home setting and she states "I am not allowed on the internet, if I need it for homework, someone has to be in the room with me to watch what I'm doing. I am not allowed to hang out with anyone outside of school unless my parents know them and they "have passed inspection". I got ripped away from two of my best friends because my parents found out that they were not straight. As for school work, I'm still trying to find positivity so it often affects my work ethic but i try very hard because my parents would get even more angry if my grades dropped". All of this began happening for her after her parents found out she had attended a GSA (gay straight alliance) meeting and kept asking her questions and in the end, forced her to come out as bisexual. Her parents did not approve of this and often express homophobic beliefs towards her which she states "they back up their comments with bible quotes and religious statements". Many LGBT teens have been in situations like this or worse unfortunately. 42% of LGBT youth say that the environment they are in is not accepting of LGBT people. The impact that not being accepted has on these individuals is huge. They can become very withdrawn, ashamed, and depressed. If the family of the LGBT youth does not accept them, they are eight times more likely to commit suicide.
Going back to the Huffington Post article i referred to earlier, Anna Aagenes also stated "being bisexual felt like a sort of purgatory between being gay and being straight as I struggled to find people who accepted and understood me". Many people believe in equality for all but for those of you who don't, at least think about why you believe it and think about the things you say before you say them because you're words cause great ripples in the oceans of peoples lives.
Hayes, Violet.* "On Home and School Environments." Personal interview. 26 May 2015.
Hill, Cindy. "What Are the Effects of the Home Environment on Learning?" LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 22 May 2015.
This is a reputable source because it is well known and they check their facts before publishing things in magazines or online.
"Bullying Resources & Advice." NoBullyingBullying Cyber Bullying Resources Advice. N.p., 31 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 May 2015.
This is a reliable source because they get their facts from many well known, reputable sources who have done research, surveys, and gotten statistics about the information posted.
Aagenes, Anna. "Being Bi: Coming Out to Both LGBT and Non-LGBT Communities." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 24 May 2015.
The Huffington Post is very well known for its honest articles about real life experiences. Anna Aagenes shares her very own personal story in this article.
*not real name