I wish I had known that it gets easier.Mattie/Dean
For some people, high school is fun because you get to make new friends, connect with old friends, join clubs, and make fun memories, but for queer and trans youth, it can be a challenging journey because there can be many struggles along the way, such as getting teachers and staff to use preferred pronouns and names, finding friends who accept you, and finding people you can trust.
Did you know 1 in 4 teens identify as LGBTQIA+, according to The Hill?
Here are some tips that will hopefully make high school easier for you so you can enjoy your experience and make lots of memories.
It may seem hard to overcome the struggles of being queer in school, but Mattie/Dean, one of the Queer Youth Assemble Birthday Card Leads, said, “I wish I had known that it gets easier. You might not have a lot of experience right now, so it seems scary and daunting, but the more you do anything and everything, the less scary it becomes, and that includes casually coming out to strangers. High school has more opportunities than middle school, and that includes better support. It gets better!!”
Another teen shares that “You’ll have the opportunity to meet a lot of other queer students who may become your close friends!”
Apollo, a Queer Youth Assemble volunteer, said, “I wish I knew how many people like me there were. I wish I knew I’d be okay and that it would be so much easier if I embraced myself.”
You don’t owe anyone your identity if you’re not ready to come out.Anonymous
Another challenging process for queer youth is coming out, because it could be unsafe. Not every person in your school will be accepting, and your family might not be supportive.
“Coming out is a process that happens when you’re ready and feel comfortable with the person. Coming out at any time has this inherent risk of lashbacks and potential repercussions; it’s risky, so take it at your own pace. Don’t forget, you’re not alone either. You’re not alone!! You have a community waiting for you when you’re ready, and the best thing about communities is that we’re here for you to lean on. Look into any GSAs or online queer communities (practice internet safety!!!). You are so strong,” advises Mattie/Dean.
Another teen said: “You don’t owe anyone your identity if you’re not ready to come out. If you do want to come out, find people you trust and have a support system in case it’s tough.”
Apollo said: “The advice I’d give is to find ways you’re comfortable being yourself and people you can trust, and start the process of coming out when you’re ready.”
Another common struggle for queer youth is making sure teachers address you correctly by using the correct names and pronouns.
Mattie/Dean’s advice is to “email ahead if you can! It prevents awkwardness on the first day of school. It is also a good way to explicitly detail when, where, and how to use your name and pronouns, such as who to use them around or if correspondence home is ever sent. Some teachers are better at it than others. Teachers will repeat over the years, or the word will spread. Most people are kind, and corrections will happen when you’re not there. It gets better with time.”
Another teen recommended to “try to find a private time to talk to your teacher and be clear about what you need.”
Apollo said: “Be persistent and confident. Sometimes it can also be easier to email them instead.”
Never let anyone tell you how to be yourself, and don’t let labels confine you.Apollo
An additional issue is getting deadnamed or misgendered by fellow people in your school community.
Mattie/Dean said: “Frankly, I just ignore it! It’s easier for me to just let it roll off my back than to risk getting into a fight in the middle of class. It depends on the scenario and who the person is, as well.”
For Apollo, “it depends, but most times I quickly correct them and try to move on. If it keeps happening or feels purposeful, I tell an adult I can trust to get their help handling the situation.”
Coming out can be very hard, but even if you are out, life can still be difficult, as you can have people questioning you, not supporting you, and giving you a hard time.
“I’m proud of you!! Coming out is a difficult thing to do, and to do so is extremely brave of you. If you’re out, you don’t have to be ashamed of it; have pride! To be queer is a wonderful thing!” said Mattie/Dean.
Another teen advised, “Surround yourself with people who care about you no matter how you identify.”
Apollo’s advice is to “never let anyone tell you how to be yourself, and don’t let labels confine you.”
We hope these tips from fellow queer high schoolers help you. As always, keep being you, because you matter, and all of us at Queer Youth Assemble love you no matter how you identify.