June 11, 2008
I gaze around the hallways of my school. Over the noise of my fellow classmates, I hear things that make my teeth clench and knuckles turn white. I constantly hear my peers calling each other “gay” and meaning it as an insult. I see one of my friends walking to class, and people do not dare touch him because he is open about his sexuality. Why is there so much fear and hatred toward gay teens?

Thirty to 70 percent of homosexual teens have been verbally or physically abused at school. This abuse can drive gay teens to suicide; they alone make up a third of teens who kill themselves. One study showed that 30 percent of homosexual males age 14 to 21 had made at least one suicide attempt.

It is common to fear what you don’t know. Many teens fear that someone who is gay will hit on them. However, fear isn’t the only reason for this abuse against gay youths. When something new or different is introduced into our community, we find it weird. When people come out as being LGB, kids see them as bizarre because they’re not like everyone else. A stereotypical 15-year-old boy probably plays a sport or two, calls himself ready when his hair is simply brushed, and worries about the problems he and his girlfriend are having. When a 15-year-old boy sings in musicals, calls himself ready only after hours in front of the mirror, and meets his boyfriends through his brother, kids are going to make fun of him, bully him, and make assumptions. Perhaps they’ll tell everyone he has AIDS or “sleeps around.”

Wasn’t it in another time that we ­reacted the exact same way toward African-Americans? And Native Americans? And Japanese, Chinese, and Iraqis? Public schools today do a fantastic job ­encouraging progressive thinking about other ­cultures and religions. Why can’t we take it to the next level? Let’s encourage open-mindedness about ­homosexuality.

A friend of mine has been open about his sexuality for two years. At first, people pointed and laughed at him. Some guys even told their buddies that my friend liked them, just to freak them out. No one ­really talked to him except a few people, including me. The harassment grew; people sent him abusive messages on MySpace.

He’d had enough.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our school had an assembly about civil rights. My friend stood up in front of the entire school, in front of those who thought he was a freak, those who called him names, and those who wouldn’t even look at him. He made a speech about the way gays were harassed and how much it hurt. He spoke with emotion and strength, and afterward, the harassment decreased. It didn’t disappear completely, but his speech convinced the majority of students to stop. If all schools could have knowledgeable speakers educate kids about homosexuals, the rate of abuse, and possibly suicides, could decrease too.

I cannot stand to think that any person could experience so much abuse and hatred that ending their life seemed better. I cannot stand to think that time and time again our nation fails to accept ­others’ differences. I cannot stand to see anyone punished for expressing who they are to the world. I cannot understand why Martin Luther King Jr. is so respected today but his words do nothing now except dwell in history textbooks. On ­August 28, 1963, King said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-­evident, that all men are created equal.’”

Somehow these words began creating equality ­between blacks and whites so many years ago. Shouldn’t the same be true for gays? School is a place to learn, but it’s also a place to grow, create friendships, and feel secure developing yourself. Teens should feel like they can express every part of themselves freely, not live in terror because of who they are. And since school is a place to express opinions, let’s encourage doing so in a peaceful matter. Educating kids about the subject will shine a bright light in the closet so gay teens will feel safe coming out of it.

Join the Discussion

This article has 27 comments. Post your own now!

ramones_lover said...
Jun. 27, 2010 at 9:25 am
AGREE people need to just learn to deal! If you like someone of the same sex then who cares how does that hurt you.If there good people then does not matter people just need to learn how to be loving and aceppting if they wish to get anywhere in this world.
ChristineOshiki said...
Mar. 19, 2010 at 10:01 pm
Wow, I wrote this in 8th grade and I am a sophmore now. Thank you all so much for your feedback and thank you for polite critisizm. I had forgotton I'd wrote this until my mom and I were messing around on google typing in peoples' names and I saw my work, this article, cited in a paper! Again, thank you all so much for appreciating my writing, and about such a sensative topic too. Hearing that I should continue to write is making me think I should take time to sit down and do so.<br /> In ... (more »)
Someone_Who_Is_Loved said...
Mar. 12, 2010 at 7:59 pm
My best friend ( a girl named Krista) is gay . Our parents are best friends so we're best friends. I highly respect her. She's the type of friend who's truthful, caring, funny, talkative, and have a attitude when she wants to be. I'm not going to quit being her friend because she's gay ! I'd never find a friend like her again! She's very rare!
reeses said...
Feb. 18, 2010 at 9:15 am
everything everyone has said here is true....i go to a small school and all my friends are either bi or gay ....very few of them are strait. I know what they go through and i stood up for them many times and no one picks on them anymore
GiveMeAnA+ said...
Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm
As i grew up i was never around those who liked the same sex as themselves. I believe the first male i met that was sexually involved with another male was my freshman year, at the same school i attend today. I considered him as my friend and took a stand because no one else would. they do not deserve to be treated wrongly just because of what they like. I am Catholic , many religions frown upon homosexuality. I myself do not frown upon it. Some of the greatest guys i know are either bi curio... (more »)
~EmilyC~ This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm
AMEN! I totally agree with this!
MWM958 said...
Jan. 2, 2010 at 11:03 am
I know, it's so terrible how much hatred and abuse many homosexuals go through.<br /> While I think homosexuality is wrong, where are we to judge them and demean them like this? Do you have any idea what they go through? I can't even imagine the ridicule and everything they must go through.<br /> Please, people, please don't make it any harder for them. <br /> Please, pray for them. And love them just as  Christ  would.
Pillow replied...
Jan. 15, 2010 at 8:25 pm
You are absolutely right.
Blabs replied...
Feb. 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm
I agree :)
ambnyc This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm
I'm glad they have your support, but thinking homosexuality is wrong is still inherently judging and demeaning them.
dragonbiscuits This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm
This was really good, and your friend is really admireable for being able to stand up for himself (and others) like that. I hate it when people are  homo -phobes, its just annoying. For instance, my mother and i were looking at colleges, we had found one I didn't like, then she showed me they had a  Gay  Pride club, and she said that it concerned her. I was all, okay... sure. And she said "Doesn't that bother you?"<br /> And I said no, and she looked at me like I gre... (more »)
ambnyc This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm
Same. I think it's the generation gap. Parents grew up in a more homophobic world. I know my parents are mildly homophobic, but my mom at least is trying to get over it.
vampzRfriendz said...
Dec. 14, 2009 at 6:39 pm
I totally agree with this. Like, Why cant people just worry about themselves instead of judging everyone around them?
If someone is happy with their lover is all that matters. Not that they are not heterosexual, great article (=
Electricity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 25, 2009 at 8:24 am
Wow, I feel sorry for the gays who are being ganged up on for the more inane reason. So what they like their own sex ? What's wrong with that? I wish there was something I could do to stop that, but it's going to keep moving forward. I have a gay friend, and he's consistantly shoved into walls. I feel stupid not being able to stop that, since i'm a little small. Being gay isn't bad, I just don't understand why people would discriminante against them.
kelly A. said...
Aug. 19, 2009 at 11:07 pm
wow! in my town we dont have many gays we have our kids that deny being gay but in reality we know that from twenty years from now they are bound to be gay! but my point is that our town excepts it and in many ways i believe that it is total fine and i have no problem but in some cases gays bring it on them selves the hurt pain of teasing! i totally agree that gays shouldnt be teased but it is the exact same for kids that are geeks?why aren't we stading up for them? but your piece was beauti... (more »)
doverdrama said...
Jul. 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm
Thia piee is well-written, but sometimes people forget about why people say mean things. I'm Catholic. The BIble says, so many times, that being homosexual is wrong. I follow the Bible, but that doesn't mean I attack people who are homosexual. Have you ever thought that maybesome people are religious, and not homo-phobe's?
ambnyc This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm
If you are against homosexuality, for ANY reason, including religion, you are a homophobe.
YeseniaG said...
Apr. 11, 2009 at 3:23 pm
Great work. It shows true emotion.
daisha C. said...
Mar. 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm
i applaud you an this article. to me it was well written , an touched on a subject that no one really likes to talk about
AP Style said...
Feb. 17, 2009 at 9:52 pm
"Thirty to 70 percent" may be distracting, but 30 must be spelled out because it begins a sentence.
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