Identifying Harassment Before It’s Too Late
Gaining the acceptance of your childhood peers can be extremely difficult when you are perceived as different. More often than not, children use bullying and ridicule to perpetuate the notion that being different is a bad thing.
For many LGBT teens, being the targets of such derogatory treatment can be a painful part of going to school every day. Other times, children who are not even gay will become the targets of this kind of harassment simply because their peers have misconceptions about them.
Even without threats of physical violence, those affected by anti-gay harassment and bullying can endure lasting psychological effects. Sometimes the harassment can be so extreme that it can drive people to depression, suicidal thoughts and even suicidal attempts.
The unfortunate reality is that most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students have been bullied both in and out of school at some point in their lives. But this kind of harassment is not limited to just children and teens–adults also deal with anti-gay harassment frequently in and out of work.
The best defense against any form of bullying or harassment is to simply continue to be yourself. Always remind your child that they are not being targeted for doing anything wrong. While it may be challenging, find a way to explain to your child that no one should allow the unfair prejudices held by others to degrade their own unique identity.
Addressing the Situation
Do not simply ignore these kinds of situations. Always encourage your child or teen to take the necessary steps toward stopping the bullying as soon as possible.
If your child is being bullied at school, remind them to follow these tips to stay safe:
- Guard yourself against physical harm until you can leave the situation
- Travel in pairs, or if necessary, keep a whistle
- Find a trusted teacher or adult to explain the circumstances
- Find a safe place to retreat, such as the library or your classroom
Avoid using physical violence as a response at all costs. Instead, use stern verbal warnings to tell the bully to stop. Never stick around if you are feeling physically threatened by another person.
Staying Safe in Public
Although each situation is different, LGBT of all ages should use these tips for staying safe when out in public:
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings
- Avoid anywhere you sense danger
- Plan ahead and pick the safest routes to wherever you are walking or traveling
- Travel in pairs, or if necessary, keep a whistle on your person