How You Can Help Your Child From Being Bullied
For many school kids, going back to school is a pleasant experience: fresh start, new clothes, new teachers, and getting reacquainted with classmates. But for many GLBT children, back-to-school represents another year of enduring being bullied or harassed by homophobic classmates, and even teachers!
What LGBT School Kids Have Reported:
- · GLSEN (The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) documented that 9 out of 10 LGBT teens are the victims of anti-gay bullying.
- · LGBT students are most apt to skip school, often as much as one day per month. Nearly 160,000 children miss school out of fear of being bullied.
- · Four out of five LGBT youth say they don’t know one supportive adult at school.
- · Twenty-eight percent of gay students will drop out of school. This represents more than three times the national average for heterosexual students.
Don’t Count On Schools To Protect Your Child
In a perfect world, adults such as a counselor, teacher, nurse or principal should come to the aid of an LGBT child who is being harassed. But, as you see from the above statistics, those in position to help often turn their backs. This creates an even greater necessity for parents to support their LGBT children at home.
Although thirty-nine states have anti-bullying laws, only California, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state have laws that specifically protect LGBT students from bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Safe Schools Improvement Act reintroduced in Congress would amend the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to require schools receiving federal funds to adopt codes prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, race and religion.
What You Can Do At Home To Support Your Child
- · Have your child describe situations that smack of bullying. What should he/she do when it happens?
- · What was the outcome of the bullying? What did the school say about bullying and what did they advise to do about it?
- · Ask your child what works and doesn’t work in that situation. Who in school handled the harassment well and who didn’t?
- Most bullies want to see their targets upset. When they don’t get a reaction, they are likely to stop. Prepare your child by role playing. Practice strategies so your child will be prepared and feel confident. Come up with a 2 or 3 step reaction process to rehearse counter attacks.
- · Tell the bully to stop and if he doesn’t, tell an adult. Emphasize that this is not tattling!
For more suggestions, see http://www.MyKindnessCounts.com
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.