West Valley’s Group Discussion Night: Back to School Edition

By Avi Vieira

With youth adjusting to being back in school, and many in new schools; West Valley one•n•ten took some time to discuss positive and negative experiences of being LGBTQ in school. Many, many stories were shared by the youth and volunteers; some funny, some sad, but a surprising number were of positive experiences. The evening kicked off with the group sharing their current grade level in school which ranged from freshman to senior high school students. The group was then asked to share some experiences they had in coming out at school and how it was handled
by peers and school personnel.

The group then shared stories of teasing and harassment they experienced at school, and how their situations were handled. While there were dishearteningly common tales of bullying and harassment over sexual and gender identity from fellow students as well as teachers – it was amazing to hear that for the most part those events ended positively for our youth, and the offenders were disciplined, terminated, or expelled. The group also shared positive experiences where someone else stood up for them in the face of bullying or persecution, which revealed a strong support network of friends who are willing to speak up when they see something wrong. It led to the final segment of the evening, where the group was able to talk about instances where a straight friend earned the title “straight ally” by being the person to stand up for their friends. The final part was a reminder to recognize and thank our straight allies who are there and support us through our struggles, tears, and laughs and prove that while they may be straight, the definitely are not narrow thinkers.
*West Valley’s article will be taking a break next week for gay camp with many of our one•n•tenyouth and will return for the September 6th group meeting. Keep Reaching for that Rainbow!