Throughout this site we provide visitors with statistics about the anti-LGBTQ bullying that takes place in our schools. We know from research that LGBTQ students frequently feel threatened at school and skip classes or drop out at a higher rate than their heterosexual counterparts.
“The other kids used to tease me a lot. My father beat me up pretty regularly, too. He didn't want any ‘faggots' in his house. So I didn't tell him I was gay but I'm sure he knew. I started doing drugs. At first it was just to take away some of the pain but then it started to hurt when I didn't have any. I was getting ready to drop out of school but I was lucky. My TRUST counselor had taken some training in recognizing what's going on with gay kids and she asked me to join her group. It's been a struggle but now I have hope. I also got to live with my mom who doesn't care if I'm gay. I expect to graduate this year after all.”
According to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Florida is one of the bottom five states for graduation rates. With a dropout rate of 41% that means more than 82,000 of the 200,000 plus students currently enrolled in South Florida high schools will not graduate. If 30% of those students dropped out because of anti-LGBTQ bullying, we can significantly reduce this tragedy through student empowerment, educator training and parent and public education for and about issues facing LGBTQ students. We also know that kids who are thrown out of their homes often can't remain in school and fall through the cracks of society.
“On my 18 th birthday when I got home from school I found all my stuff on the sidewalk and my parents had changed the locks. I knew they weren't happy about me being gay but I didn't realize it was this bad. A friend helped me get my stuff into his family's garage to protect it. I started sleeping on the streets. I had to quit school to get a job. A friend in Fort Lauderdale let me crash on his couch so I got a job up here. I got my GED last year and hope to go to BCC [Broward Community College] next semester. I haven't seen my family in two years.”
Won't you help? Did you experience bullying and harassment when you were in school? Did you observe others around you being verbally or physically attacked? Many of us think “Oh, it's just what happens in school. We all went through it.” Not so. Nine percent of student victims of anti-LGBTQ bullying suffer post traumatic stress disorder. Even more fall victim to self-medication with alcohol and drugs. This cannot be dismissed. Others think the problems have been solved since their school days and bullying doesn't really happen any longer. Yet current research shows that anti-LGBTQ harassment is common and even prevalent in many school settings.
When I was in third grade, my best friend at school found out I had too mommies. So she went home and told her parents about it. The next day when I got to school, my friend wouldn't speak to me and kept walking away whenever I approached her. Finally, crying my eyes out, I begged her to tell me what was wrong. She said her mom told her that I lived in a sinful and evil house with two mommies and she couldn't talk to me anymore. I was devastated and didn't know what to do. My teacher asked me what was wrong and I told her. She had taken a Safe Schools South Florida workshop and that afternoon she talked to the class about not hurting each others' feelings and different people have different families. It made me feel a lot better but I was still sad about my best friend.”
In the twenty years Safe Schools South Florida has been working in South Florida schools districts we have seen a significant increase in awareness and sensitivity toward issues facing our LGBTQ students. We still have a long way to go. We need your financial assistance to continue to empower LGBTQ students and their allies; train educators, administrators and staff to recognize and intervene in anti-LGBTQ bullying; educate parents and the public to help create safer spaces for LGBTQ students outside of campus life; and to continually refine and improve our programs to accomplish these goals.