Why I’m saying thank you to girls for saving gay and bi boys in school

Tom in school girls and boys in playground

No one needs to tell you school is hard. One mistake and it will haunt you till your dying day. One boy in my primary school wet himself in Year 4 and by the time we left, people still wouldn’t sit on a seat he’d been on in case he wet that one too. How anyone escapes that environment without needing therapy is a miracle.

But being anything other than cis and heterosexual?

Oh boy. That’s school on hard mode.

Every non-straight identity faced their own kind of bullying. Lesbian girls are fetishized by teenage boys; bisexual kids are forced into the label of their same-sex attraction and mocked for that. And gay boys… well, I’m most familiar with this kind.

In some places, it’s just name-calling. The usual playground stuff and it’s hard to talk about this without being called a snowflake. But the constant taunting is dehumanizing and will isolate even the most strong-willed of people.

Beyond that, there’s the obvious physical violence. Flaring up in locker rooms where there’s no adult supervision, or in classrooms where gay boys are always the subject of attack. I saw all of this in my school, and a bit of it directed at me.

I grew up in a town in the county of Essex, just outside of London. One of the many things that part of England is known for is creative use of words. That was people’s main weapon against me. We don’t really use the word faggot, but Ali G gave the boys ‘batty boy’, which I’m sure every non-straight kid is happy for.

Tom and Louise school best friends

As you can tell, we’re both gay | Photo: Tom Capon

A lot of it is tame. My last name was bastardized into Tom Gaypon, Gay-capon, or Tom ‘Gay Boy’ Capon as if I was a combatant in the world’s worst banter boxing match. What I’m getting at is I got it easy. I grew to the size of an adult as soon as I hit 14, like an acne-ridden beanstalk. People mostly left me alone.

I know people who were followed home and attacked. People beaten up in the park. Other kids parroted the bigotry of their parents, with the kind of blind hatred of a religious zealot. It’s just their peers who being burned at the stake.

Playgrounds really are a battlefield. 

But in any field of battle, you need allies. In school, there was probably only a handful of other LGBTI people to rely on. Most don’t find their queer family till after school. So what did we all do in the meantime? We found girls.

They were the ones that took us in when our male peers shunned us. We sat with them at lunch. They invited us round their house. When all the name calling and physical violence looms over a school career, you can pretty much guarantee that a gay or bi boy has a gang of girls surrounding them.

With the straight or bi girls, you could openly talk about boys – an act of liberation, you were no longer ashamed of your feelings. With gay or bi girls, you could revel in that bond of otherness, without the risk of pressures and entanglements of teenage love.

While no one should be expected to put themselves at risk to help others, a lot did. They’d call out the bullies. At the very least, being in a pack offered the best kind of protection – and it was the girls who would let us into the pack.

But it’s not just about being saviors: they were – and are – our best friends. The ones we could talk to about anything. The ones we loved in the most ridiculous years of your life.

So thank you to all the girls out there doing the good work and saving their gay friends from the torments of idiot teen boys. And thank you to all the women who did that at school; for me, and for everyone else. You might never know how much of a difference you made.

Tom Capon is the Travel Editor and can be found on Twitter and Instagram.

See also: 

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Author: Tom Capon

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LGBTI-inclusive anti-bullying laws linked to lower rates of teen suicides

A school classroom

A new study shows detailed anti-bullying laws can help decrease the suicide rate among LGBTI teenagers.

Suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project stated LGBTI teens are nearly five times more likely than their straight counterparts to have attempted suicide.

55% of LGBTI kids live in states with no LGBTI anti-bullying laws

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has found a connection between LGBTI-inclusive state bullying laws and lower rates of teen suicide attempts.

The report analyzed 2015 data on the leading causes of death among teens ages 14 to 18 in the US.

At the moment, all 50 states have anti-bullying laws. However, just 20 and the District of Columbia have laws explicitly protecting LGBTI kids. These states reported a lower rate of attempted suicides and sexual assaults.

The study also highlights that approximately 55% of LGBTI youth live in states that do not have laws that explicitly protect them from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Including sexual orientation in anti-bullying laws can help

‘Anti-bullying laws that explicitly protect youth based on sexual orientation are associated with fewer suicide attempts among all youth, regardless of sexual orientation,” the report highlights.

‘Enumeration of sexual orientation in state anti-bullying laws is a first step,’ Ilan Meyer said. Meyer is the lead author of the report and a senior public policy scholar at the Williams Institute.

Read also:

Trans kids understand their gender from the age of 3, new study shows

Only half of US cancer doctors have good knowledge of LGBTI patient needs

Author: Stefania Sarrubba

The post LGBTI-inclusive anti-bullying laws linked to lower rates of teen suicides appeared first on Gay Star News.