Student video violates a safe space and has LGBTQ+ students afraid

Anonymous, Guest Column

Because of the sensitivity of this issue, the Editorial Board has decided to honor the student writer’s request for their column to remain anonymous. If you would like to share your own column, please email [email protected]

LFHS is not a welcoming or safe place for its LGBTQ+ students. We have created a community that mocks, mistreats, or just ignores queer people. Despite the push for more understanding and celebration of diversity at our school, this problem is not getting any better. It’s getting worse.

I am a senior at LFHS and I’ve been going to the LGBT counseling group for all four years (even when we were meeting online). I identify as an asexual, transgender man and I have been out of the closet for almost 8 years. When I first came to LFHS, I felt very out of place with my peers. I wanted to meet more people like me, but my parents were afraid I would get bullied if I went to the Alliance club.

My happy place had been turned into a public spectacle and scandal. I have never been more afraid for my own safety. 

Then, I was invited by a friend to go to the queer therapy group (also known as ‘Q group’). For those who are unaware, Q group is one of six other groups where students can talk with their peers about their issues. There are groups for people with family issues, people with chronic health issues, and people who have a hard time making friends. Q group meetings are held on Fridays and run by one of the school social workers. It’s much more private than Alliance, and it allowed me to talk about my experiences as a young trans person with people who understood.

 Q group quickly became a second home to me. A place where I didn’t have to put on an act just to seem ‘normal’. I made amazing friends and became more confident in my identity. I started dressing in a more unique style because I wasn’t as afraid to stand out. People may have been calling me slurs in the hallways and making weird remarks about my appearance or behavior, but it was okay. I always had a place where I would be loved and respected. That has changed for me.

Recently, a student discovered the room where we have our meetings and decided to take a video of my friend entering the room. It was only about a minute long, but it showed a bit of what the room looks like. Soon the video was shared to Twitter and Youtube, claiming that LFHS has a “secret” LGBT club that they aren’t telling parents about. The post got a decent account of attention, with people commenting saying this group shouldn’t be allowed and making homophobic jokes. It was eventually reported to the dean that a student had filmed another student and posted it online without their consent.

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The tweet was deleted, but not before I read every single reply. I was horrified. These people were making disgusting comments about me and my friends, most of them claiming that this group was a den for some kind of sexual activity. People replied with pictures of the school and the accounts of the principal and dean. One person even commented “A discreetly placed recording device might yield interesting results…”.

My happy place had been turned into a public spectacle and scandal. I have never been more afraid for my own safety. 

This homophobia is nothing new. Almost every LGBT student I know has been harassed and abused for their queerness at some point by another student. For several years, the Human Rights Club has been forced to remove their display from store windows because it showed a pride flag. Last year a transphobic column was posted to The Forest Scout arguing that transgender women should not be allowed to participate in women’s sports. There is a reason that Alliance has had a low turnout for months. It’s because we’re scared. Scared of being harassed or outed by our peers or even teachers.

Q group was the one place where many queer students (including myself) were able to feel safe. It feels like that safety has been taken away. LFHS needs to create an environment where people aren’t afraid to be themselves, but it doesn’t seem like that will happen. Because no matter how many pride flags we hang up or clubs we make, there will still be hatred.

The only way that will change is if society changes how they view the LGBTQ community. With the way things are going, that won’t be happening any time soon.

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