Overcoming Anti-Gay Harassment
Being gay or lesbian often means having to deal with prejudice and harassment from
Gay and lesbian teens are often targets of bullying, harassment, and aggression. Anti-gay
bullying can range from verbal abuse, such as name-calling, to life-threatening physical
Even if young people escape physical violence, the effects of bullying can be psychologically
devastating. Young victims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) may
become promiscuous or start abusing drugs and alcohol. LGBT kids and teens may skip
school or even run away from home. Many suffer from depression, and some are driven
to commit suicide.
Some victims of this kind of harassment may not even be gay. Some can become targets
simply because their peers perceive them to be gay.
For students dealing with harassment
The most important step in dealing with anti-gay harassment is to believe in who you
are. The bullying isn’t your fault. Nor should you have to change to please or be
accepted by other people. Understand that you are not to blame for others’ prejudices
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 seek help if you are being physically attacked
or fear that you could be.
Try the following:
Protect yourself until you can get away.
Stay with a friend who can offer protection or get help when necessary.
Confide in a trusted adult about what is happening.
Go to a safe area like the library or a teacher’s classroom if you are threatened.
How LGBT adults can stay safe
When out in public, stay alert and trust your instincts.
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
to minimize the trauma. Address the issue by reporting the harassment either to administrators
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, or therapist.
Bullying or harassing people over their sexual orientation is never acceptable, funny,
or appropriate. If you see it happening, speak out. And if it happens to you, seek