Being LGBT in school can be difficult, but once you’re out of the institution of education things get a whole lot better
When you’re in school, coming to terms with your own LGBT identity can be difficult. There’s often a taboo around anything non-heteronormative, with terms like ‘gay’ being bandied about by teenagers as an insult and offensive meme’s pervading your life online.
Irish schools with strict religious policies can make coming out seem next to impossible. And on top of that you’re probably going through puberty which means drastic hormonal changes, mood swings, growing pains, and more.
But once you finish school and enter adulthood, the situations you used to dread facing on a daily basis (like sitting beside a bully in class or having to wear a uniform that doesn’t fit with your gender identity) become distant memories, quickly fading into the past.
Here are some of the things that get better for Irish LGBT after they leave school.
After you finish school, you never have to wear those hideous uniforms ever again (unless you’ve decided to dress as a school kid for Halloween in a super ironic kind of way decades down the line).
If part of your gender expression was being hampered by the strict rules your school enforced, then this is going to be one of the best things that gets better after school.
You get to choose the clothes you wear every day. Look at Ivan Fahy, the Irish androgynous model! Throughout school, he was unable to express himself properly, but when graduating college, he wore high heels. How’s that for a pointed improvement – we like your style Ivan!
In school, you don’t get to choose the people who you are surrounded by for the half the waking day. For a lot of people, changing schools and classes is not an option. If those around you are not supportive of LGBT people, if they’re not a good ally, then this can make attending school difficult.
But when you finish school, and start working, or head to college or go travelling, you get to choose the people you see every day. If you didn’t get to hang around with supportive, understanding people in school, you can make a choice to do so afterwards. Your school friends may not have accepted your sexuality or gender identity, but once you finish you get to decide who you spend time with.
And you know what they say: who you surround yourself with once you finish school is an expression of the person you aspire to be.
Click below to find out what else gets better for young LGBT people when they finish school.
3. Being A Minority
In school, the likelihood that as an LGBT person you are in the minority is pretty high. While statistics have hovered around the 10% figure for LGBT people in the population, an Irish poll revealed that 4% of the population might be lesbian, gay or bi. That’s one in twenty five people.
In school, feeling like you’re the only gay in the educational village can be a horrible feeling. Finding other LGBT people to connect with, share experiences and show solidarity with one another is something that might seem unobtainable.
But when you leave school, joining LGBT groups in college or the workplace can help you to connect with people who have had similar experiences to you.
Groups like the Emerald Warriors, Gloria choir and more allow you to experience what it’s like to be part of the LGBT community.
LGBT bars and clubs allow you to go out, mingle with others and flirt with people without the fear that someone will take it up the wrong way.
4. Homophobic Bullying
In school throwing around the word ‘gay’ as an insult is still commonplace. I’d wager that this kind of homophobic attitude stems from the taboo surrounding sexuality which young people inherit from their elders. Elders like their parents and teachers who refuse to openly discuss sexualities other than heterosexuality because it makes them uncomfortable, because religion tells them its wrong, or for whatever other reason.
Luckily, when you leave school being in situations where homophobic bullying is rife becomes less and less likely. As the taboo around sexuality is broken (through further education and, well, age), homophobic bullying becomes nearly a thing of the past – while not entirely eradicated from existence, the number of instances of homophobic bullying after leaving school takes a sharp decline.
These are some of the areas that get better when you finish school and begin to make your way into the world! If you’re in school right now and can relate to these experiences, or if you’ve finished and feel like things definitely did get better afterwards, let us know in the comments below.
(Image: By Elizabet21 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
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