Overcoming Gender Identity Harassment
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or other (LGBTQ+) often means
having to deal with prejudice and harassment from childhood on.
LGBTQ+ teens are often targets of bullying, harassment, and aggression. Bullying can
range from verbal abuse, such as name-calling, to life-threatening physical assault.
Even if young people escape physical violence, the effects of bullying can be psychologically
devastating. Young bullying victims who are LGBTQ+ may engage in risky behaviors.
They may start having sex with different partners. Or they may start abusing drugs
and alcohol. LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+. Some can become targets
simply because their peers think they are LGBTQ+.
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 seek 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 LGBTQ+ 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
minimize 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, 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, seek
To learn more