Embracing sexuality

Teens fear loss of acceptance

Society has an idea of what love is supposed to be: a boy and a girl who fall in love and live happily ever after. For some that is not the case. Some of those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community are hiding in fear due to people who believe they should not be allowed to love whom they want.

According to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), “coming out” is when someone has established a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender/gender-nonconforming identitiy within themselves first and then may choose to reveal it to others. For some, the process of coming out is easier than others. They may only tell people they trust or they may be openly out; however, with controversy in the media and society in general toward the LGBT community, some teens are less than willing to come out.

Being gay doesn’t change me as a person, I’m still the same person, just I like girls. To me, it makes me feel who I truly am when people know. If I hide it, I feel like I’m hiding the biggest part of myself.

— Elizabeth Salyer

I came out in eighth and ninth grade. I gradually told people, and then it just kind of spread I guess,” sophomore Elizabeth Salyer said. “I’ve never been physically bullied, but I have had people call me mean words like ‘queer’ or ‘faggot,’ but I just let it slide. ‘Water off a duck’s back’ my dad told me.”

According to the Humans Rights Campaign, “four in 10 LGBT youth (42 percent) say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people.”

That is almost half of the people in a single community. Imagine if the school alone made up the entire community. There are exactly 580 students in the high school. With that being said, about 145 students are not accepting of the LGBT community.

“Twenty-six percent of LGBT youth say their biggest problems are not feeling accepted by their families, trouble at school/bullying and a fear to be out/open,” said the Humans Rights Campaign on its website.  

Students who are not out can go through these struggles on a daily basis.

“Most of my extended family doesn’t know, because they wouldn’t accept it, so I haven’t told them yet,” Salyer said. “I have come out to my dad’s side, but my mom has been very secretive to her side. She is just afraid they won’t talk to me if they find out. Waiting for the right time is key.”