Overcoming Gender Identity Harassment
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, gender queer, or questioning,
or other (LGBTQIA+) often means having to deal with prejudice and harassment from
LGBTQIA+ teens are often targets of bullying, harassment, and aggression. Bullying
can range from verbal abuse, like name-calling, to life-threatening physical assault
and sexual abuse.
Even if young people escape physical violence, the effects of bullying can be psychologically
devastating. Young bullying victims who are LGBTQIA+ may engage in risky behaviors.
They may start having sex with multiple different partners. Or they may start abusing
drugs and alcohol. LGBTQIA+ kids and teens may skip school or even run away from home.
Many suffer from depression. And some are driven to suicide.
Some victims of this kind of harassment may not even be LGBTQIA+. Some can become
targets simply because their peers think they are LGBTQIA+.
For students dealing with harassment
The most important step in dealing with harassment is to believe in who you are. The
bullying isn’t your fault. And you should not have to change to please anyone, or
to be accepted by other people. Understand that you are not to blame for other people’s
prejudices, hatred, or actions.
If you are being bullied or harassed about your sexual orientation, take steps to
put an end to the bullying right away. Don’t fight back or make threats. Simply tell
the bully to stop. Leave the situation and get help if you are being physically attacked
or fear that you could be.
Try the following:
Protect yourself until you can get away.
Don’t fight back. Find an adult you trust to help stop the bullying on the spot.
Stay with a friend who can offer protection or get help when needed.
Tell a trusted adult about what is happening.
Go to a safe area, such as the library or a teacher’s classroom, if you are threatened.
How LGBTQIA+ young adults can stay safe
When out in public, stay alert and trust your instincts.
Let your friends and loved ones know where you are.
When walking, plan the safest and most direct route.
Carry a whistle to attract attention in case you feel threatened.
Cross the street, change direction, or run into a crowd if you sense danger.
Don't deny that the problem exists
It can be easy to brush off harassment or bullying after the fact, once you're safe
and the confrontation has ended. But you don't need—or deserve—to live in fear or
reduce the trauma. Address the issue by reporting the harassment to an adult you feel
safe with, such as your parents, school staff, or teachers, or to the police.
It's normal to feel ashamed after a traumatic bullying experience. But it's also normal
to feel angry, afraid, confused, or even numb. There is no right or wrong way to react
to harassment. It will help to talk with a trusted friend, counselor, family or therapist.
Bullying or harassing people about their sexual orientation is never acceptable, funny,
or appropriate. If you see it happening, speak out. And if it happens to you, get
To learn more
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