You Don't Know How It Feels

March 30, 2011
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We’ve all seen it; that guy being pushed around by the football player and being called “fag” and “homo”. We’ve watched and felt pain but did nothing. We did nothing because when we were seeing it and feeling that pain, it was through a television screen. The thing is that type of bullying really exists. It in reality happens around the country in schools everyday. According to the Mental Health America website, once every fourteen minutes a boy or girl hears an anti-gay slur; that’s about twenty six times in one school day. Boys and girls being picked on for wanting to be in same sex relationships. People being bullied for trying to be who o they really are; for trying not to hide anymore. Thinking about it is almost sickening.

Imagine if someone was calling you names just because you had blonde hair or blue eyes? How would that make you feel? Imagine having to fake a smile everyday when you wake up, knowing that once you got to school you’d be pushed into a locker or called nasty names. Not every homosexual teen feels this, some hide their feeling s to avoid all of the bullying and hurt. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the pain. That doesn’t mean they like having to hide their true feelings. They hide because of fear, not always by choice. Its also not always other teens they fear. Often times it’s their parents or family members. They fear they will no longer be accepted into their own family. Some teens that do come out to their parents are banished from their homes or sent to counseling to be made “normal” because the way they feel is just a “phase”. This seems crazy, like something we’d only see on TV; but it’s very real for many teens across America.

Unfortunately, bullying does more harm than is seen on the surface; it also affects their mental health. Teens are in high distress because of the hatred and prejudice that surround them. This distress also causes these teens to be two to three more times likely to commit suicide. Suicide is not the only affect though; homophobia is proven to be bad for your health. It boosts suicide rates but also memory loss. Michael Benibgui conducted a study involving 63 Montrealers between the ages of 18 and 25 who have faced harassment because of their sexuality. The study shows that these victims had a high amount of cortisol, a chemical released in the brain as a response to stress. Normally high levels of cortisol are produced in the morning and low levels in the evening; however, each person in the study showed a high level throughout the day. This may be one of the reasons suicide rates are so high among anti-gay victims.

Education of gay teens is also affected. It is shown that some teens are so harshly bullied they are not able to receive an adequate education. They become embarrassed or ashamed when they are at school, and are more likely to skip. They skip out of fear, threats and property vandalism. A study shows that twenty two percent of gay teens had to skip school in the past month because they no longer felt safe there. Imagine not feeling safe in your own school? These teens have to wake up and face fear every morning. Their education and future has to suffer because of the simple fact that they’re gay. Twenty eight percent of these teens drop out of school; that is more than triple the rate of heterosexuals that will drop out. This means that that twenty eight percent will struggle to find jobs and make money; just because they’re gay. These teens could be helped, if they simply had someone to talk to at school. One out of five gay teens feels they have no safe adult to talk to at school. If they had someone to talk to their education and life could be saved.

There is so much that could be done to prevent homosexual teens from taking their own life. The easiest thing to do is accept them. They are people just like everyone else. Being homosexual doesn’t make them an alien or any less of a human than you and I. They have done nothing wrong; they are merely trying to live their lives normally. If we just stopped and took a moment to listen, to understand where they’re coming from, we could save lives. How would you feel if you were being bullied purely for the way to live your life? Now think about how those people feel when you bully them for it. Next time think before you take action against someone for their lifestyle. If it doesn’t affect you then why should you care? Stop bullying and save lives.

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