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The Monarch Times

The Monarch Times

LGBTQ+ Students Face Bullying: Silence is Violence

It’s no secret people in the LGBTQ+ community experience a large amount of bullying, hate, and discrimination. At Mt. Eden High School, twenty members of the LGBTQ community were asked about their experiences, eighteen of which had traumatic stories. Many were unwilling to publicly share their stories, but luckily, one brave person consented to sharing. Their name will be kept anonymous for safety reasons.

A transgender Mt. Eden student described a story of being hit with a bottle inside the boys’ bathroom by a group of transphobic students. The incident triggered their fears of going into a gendered school bathroom because they have never felt safe. The problem doesn’t end with the students. Even now, there are teachers who have little idea how to treat or address transgender students. Although only one person wanted to share their story, all interviewees agreed on one thing: there isn’t enough education about the LGBTQ+ community, let alone the trans community, despite Mt. Eden’s substantial population of closeted transgender students.

Students claimed that they have tried to report these incidents on paper or to a teacher with no response. However, reporting from the HUSD website will get attention faster than other options, as the site has a very quick and easy way to anonymously report a situation.

Assistant Principal Terrance Christianson said that the administration takes every anti-transgender bullying case seriously and immediately starts to investigate. It’s difficult for students to know if the issue has been resolved because those who report anonymously are not given a response back. One student claimed that although they did not receive any updates because they reported a bullying incident anonymously, the perpetrator never received any punishment. From their perspective, the perpetrator received no time off of school and did not change their bullying behavior.

Christianson added that Mt. Eden has hired restorative counselors for group counseling. HUSD has paired up with “Side By Side,” (SBS) which provides the district with an SBS facilitator and staff. This will bring sexual orientation and gender identity expression consultations to staff and weekly student support groups.

The SBS staff will provide SOGIE support groups for students on Mt. Eden, Hayward High, Tennyson High, Brenkwitz High, and District Middle Schools for 2-4 hours a week.

Speaking with many teachers on campus and other staff members, a lot of them underestimated the amount of bullying taking place. Many said they were surprised because the campus doesn’t seem to have many bullying issues. Some teachers had reason to believe there are low incidences of bullying at Mt. Eden. Many students fear their bully would return, that their parents would be notified, or they simply didn’t know how to properly report.

The bullying doesn’t stop at Mt. Eden; anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination is a state and national issue. Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old non-binary student at Owasso High School in Oklahoma, entered a bathroom on February 7th, 2024. After only two minutes, a group of older girls slammed Benedict’s head on the ground. The hospital released Benedict on the same day. The following day, February 8th, Benedict passed away from brain trauma. The three older girls had allegedly been bullying Benedict before the tragedy even happened. Messages exchanged between Benedict and their family members show they had communicated that they were jumped by three students and informed their family they were in the ER.

In a statement released by the school, every parent of the children involved in the incident was given the option to file a police report against the perpetrators. Ultimately, none of them did. However, police did make a statement on the matter confirming Benedict’s presence at the ER around 3:30 P.M., the day of the fight, as the hospital called down a resource officer.

Studies done by human rights organization GLSEN show that on average, 90% of LGBTQ+ students hear homophobic comments directed to them in school over the course of middle school alone, one-third of which would come from teachers or staff. 74% of trans students in school receive hate comments or hate speech from fellow students for their gender identity or expression. Over half of trans students have been physically harmed in schools. One-fourth of LGBTQ+ students are physically harmed because of their identity, whether it’s gender or sexuality.

For 25 years, The Trevor Project has been the largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth. The site has fully trained counselors that are ready to take your chat, text, or call 24 hours of the day, 365 days of the year. These counselors are trained to talk, address and understand the situations of LGBTQ+ youth. The website is completely free for anyone to use on any device.

The Trevor Project does not only help the youth, but also parents that might not be understanding. They are also open to volunteers to train and become counselors. If you need an exit from a dangerous situation, it only takes a double click to be sent to their Google page.

The Trevor Project:  (866) 488-7386

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741

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