While most teenagers or adolescents may experience some victimization in school, LGBTQ students mostly face higher rates of it than their peers. And, this victimization isn’t a few snide remarks here and there. Victimization of LGBTQ students can contribute to substance abuse, higher risk of suicide, and unsafe sexual experiences.
In addition, some of these experiences may also lead to an increase of interaction with people in authority and increase the likelihood of being involved with the justice system and school discipline. When LGBTQ students are victimized, they may experience increased heightened discipline especially with the school administration, suspension or expulsion, and greater involvement with justice systems and adult or juvenile facilities.
In addition to this, even if LGBTQ students were to report unsatisfactory responses of school staff to victimization, they may experience even more school discipline than those who report satisfactory responses. As a result, it’s essential that those in positions of authority where LGBTQ youth are concerned should confront biased and ineffective responses as well as LGBTQ victimization.
Victimization of LGBTQ Adolescents
Gender and sexual minority youth or adolescents are at an increased risk of sleep troubles, depression, eating disorders, and sometimes, even suicide. Such health concerns are often the results of distress from being victimized due to their gender and sexual identities. In India, LGBTQ teens and youth are victimized and bullied due to being visibly queer.
When there’s victimization at school and lack of support at home, students may perform poorly due to the stress they have to endure. When students report acts of victimization and bullying, they may be told to change their ‘perceived behaviours’ or ignore negative remarks. In itself, this doesn’t do much to stop the victimization.
How to Stop Victimization of LGBTQ Teens, Youth, and Adolescents
There’s no doubt that LGBTQ teens, youth, and adolescents require support or safe spaces where they get to vent and talk about the issues that affect them. While there are activist groups all around that are supportive, it may be difficult to fully assist minors since they’re still under care and guardianship of their parents or primary care-givers who may not be fully supportive.
Even if there’s an availability of online resources, they’re not always easy to navigate because information is in surplus and not all of it may be friendly to youth, teens, and adolescents or authentic. In addition, there’s also the risk of people preying on or grooming vulnerable youth and exposing them to dark and inappropriate material.
The first step in helping to stop such victimization is by empowering parents since they’re adolescents’ primary caregivers. Just like any other adolescent, LGBTQI+ adolescents require holistic support. The entire community, including parents, the education system, and neighbourhoods should be made adolescent-friendly and queer-affirmative. While the education system is more accommodative to binary students, policies should be introduced to make sure it covers all regardless of their gender and sexual identity. Gender sensitization should be available not only in private, but public schools too.
The state should be able to put in resources into gender sensitisation in state schools while India’s National Policy for Children has to be revised to accommodate and protect children and adolescents with gender dysphoria.