Gay Teens In High School


One gay man remembers his high school years as filled with intense loneliness, fear and
self-hatred. Another recalls spending every lunch period in a bathroom stall. A lesbian recollects her
bottling up all her emotions and silencing all spontaneous gestures, terrified of saying or doing anything to betray her own secret. Unusual memories? Not at all.
Most gay people, and many of today’s gay teens in high school, can describe similar tales. In most
teenagers’ lives, they experience a wonderful four years of high school; but gay teenagers experience
something much different. These students go through school trying to fit in and just be accepted by the
society around them. In many cases, there is good that comes from being gay and being out (to declare
ones sexuality) in school but the bad things will always overpower the good. A study done in 1995 by the
US Department of Health and Human Services showed that gay and lesbian youths are 35% more likely to
go through with suicide. Every year that rate gets higher and higher. Now is the time to look past
indifference and see a person for who that person is... a human being.
In many high schools across the nation, there are at least a handful of kids in each high school that
are gay, lesbian, and/or bisexual but are hiding themselves. In other words, they are playing straight
(acting heterosexual). In an average high school “about 3%” of students are actually gay, with “about 1%”
of those students who are out to everyone. (Hopkins, Gary: On average, a high school student, gay or straight, will
hear “anti-gay remarks about 25-40 times” in one school day. (Hopkins, Gary: Out of all the verbal abuse heard, “80% of it is failed to
be reported” due to the fact that students are not confident with their sexuality yet.
A survey done in 1996 on over 8,400 high school students by The Safe School Anti-Violence
Project reported some interesting statistics. Out of the 8,400 students: “95% characterize themselves as
heterosexual; 5% as homosexual or bisexual, and 4% as uncertain.” (The Safe School Anti-Violence
Project of Washington:
Among the gay/lesbian/bisexual students, “34% has been harassed” due to their “sexual
orientation.” Also, they were “3 times more likely to be injured in a fight that requiring medical
attention.” (The Safe School Anti-violence Project of Washington:
Furthermore, about “75% of students reported feeling unsafe” in school and have stated feeling “strongly
about suicide.” (The Safe School Anti-violence Project of Washington:
When a teenager realizes for the first time their sexuality, they feel it’s extremely hard to tell
anyone. Gay teenagers feel it’s hard to come out into today’s society, due to the great number of factors
stopping them; homophobia (irrational fear of homosexuals) is one of the factors. Teenagers have to go through people that hate them just because of their sexual orientation. Gay teenagers in high school have
to face homophobic teenagers everyday.
In many cases of homophobia, gay teenagers lose their friends and family. They don’t feel
accepted if they do tell their family and friends. The overwhelming sensation of abandonment is so great,
the teenager feels that he/she will end up getting kicked out of the house. Or, that his/her friends will no longer want to be his/her friend anymore. Teenagers don’t know how “to feel or react under these
conditions.” (Wilson, Terry: Chicago Tribune 25 Mar. 1997) This leads to mass “confusion and
loneliness”. (Wilson, Terry: Chicago Tribune 25 Mar. 1997) The feeling of rejection is another factor that
makes it hard to come out. Your friends leave you, families disown you, and society looks down upon
The lack of support makes it hard for gay youths to come out. They don’t know whom to trust
with this secret. “The teenager has no one to look up too.” (Cloud, John: Times 8 dec. 1999 82-83) The
student feels they are the only one in their school and is afraid to come out. (Cloud, John: Times 8 Dec.
1999 82-83)
The lacks of support and role models in schools leave many gay and lesbian students feeling alone and ashamed during their adolescence. The high rate of suicide among gay and lesbian students is the result of a sense of profound isolation and aloneness experienced through high school. (Lopes, Paula: interview 31 Jan. 2000)
Many teenagers fear coming out because of the violence they have observed. One incident is the Matthew