By Guest Blogger: Deanna Martin, LPCC, Senior Specialist, Center of Excellence Beech Acres Parenting Center

This month we celebrate LGBTQI+* History Month and celebrated National Coming Out Day which was themed “Born to Shine”. While each of us is born to shine, there are places and spaces where LGBTQI+ youth do not feel safe to be fully who they are.


Imagine you or a loved one not feeling safe to bring all that they are to your classroom, sports field, or home? What if that young one who felt so afraid was your child? The need to hide parts of oneself to belong takes a lot of mental, spiritual, psychological, and emotional energy.


How might life be different for them if every adult, teacher, coach, and parent encouraged and modeled respect and approached them with curiosity and belief in their innate dignity and worth, creating safety for all? How might life be different if we loved unconditionally, with acceptance, and co-created communities of mutual support in which we are all able to grow, heal, learn, and explore in a place of freedom?


The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) shows Nationwide in the United States that:
• 32% of self-identified lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) high school students report having been bullied on school property
• 26.6% LGB students versus 17.1% – 14.1% straight students report being cyberbullied
• 13.5% LGB students versus 7.5% of straight students reported not going to school because of safety concerns.
• 43% of transgender youth reported being bullied on school property.
• 29% of transgender youth, 21% of gay and lesbian youth, and 22% of bisexual youth have attempted suicide.
• Students “not sure” of their sexual identity reported being bullied on school property (26.9%), being cyberbullied (19.4%), and not going to school because of safety concerns (15.5%).
As adults we have the power to stand with or step away, to encourage a light to shine or to extinguish it by not seeing our young people for all they are or not saying anything in the face of ridicule. Here are some tips for preventing bullying:

  • Intentionally build relationships with youth by staying curious and open to hearing their experiences so they feel safe to share with you.
  • Be unconditional in your love and support and make your allyship and support known.
  • Educate yourself, ask questions and stay culturally humble.
  • Model respect for all in the classroom, our homes, and on the sports field.

*LGBTQI+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, nonbinary or otherwise gender non-conforming


For more information on how you can stop bullying follow these links:
https://www.hrc.org/news/new-cdc-data-shows-lgbtq-youth-are-more-likely-to-be-bullied-than-straight-cisgender-youth
Understanding Gender: https://www.genderbread.org/resource/genderbread-person-v4-0-poster
Stop Bullying: https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/lgbtq
LGBTQ Youth Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth-resources.htm