Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Adolescents: Victimization, Belonging, Safety and the Role of Supportive Adults in High School (page 2)

By and — Bullying Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Feb 11, 2009

The Protective Role of Adults at School

The safety and well being of all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, cannot be overlooked. Students cannot learn if they are preoccupied with their safety from peer harassment. Fortunately, as suggested by the findings of our study, the role of supportive adults at school can be a protective factor for LGBQ students. Also, it is important to highlight that youth are not simply born homophobic and they do not inherently see the world through the lens of heterosexism (a belief that heterosexuality is the only valid sexuality). Homophobia (fear and contempt for homosexuals) and heterosexism are beliefs that youth learn through their social surroundings. They internalize these beliefs after years of taking on the messages that society’s institutions disseminate. Little (10) explains that, whereas homophobia brings prejudice and potential cruelty, heterosexism keeps LGBQ youth muted and invisible. No doubt, school is one of society’s most influential institutions. Thus, as demonstrated through this study, the role of supportive adults at school can have quite a powerful impact on the positive experiences of LGBQ students. Teachers and other school staff need to have awareness and get training to assist them in being supportive of LGBQ youth (11, 12). In addition to their supportive role, adults at school can play a preventative role through allowing no room for tolerating homophobia as well as ensuring that the voices of LGBQ students are heard and expressed.

The role of supportive adults at school is vital for the mental and physical health of future generations. No individual, regardless of sexual orientation, should be denied his or her right to be safe from victimization and harassment.


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  10. Little, J. N. (2001). Embracing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered youth in school-based settings. Child and Youth Care Forum, 30, 99-110.
  11. Poteat, V. P. (2008). Contextual and moderating effects of the peer group climate on use of homophobic epithets. School Psychology Review, 37, 188-201.
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  13. Darwich, L., Hymel, S., & Waterhouse, T. (2008, March). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Adolescents: Their Social Experiences and the Role of Supportive Adults in High School. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Chicago, Il.
  14. Community-University Institute for Social Research (2003). The cost of Homophobia: Literature Review on the Human Impact of Homophobia on Canada. SK: CUISR. Suggested Resources Baker, J. M. (2002). How homophobia hurts children: Nurturing diversity at home, at school, and in the community. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press Inc. Savin-Williams, R. (2005). The new gay teenager. MA: Harvard University Press.
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