My name is Lonelypilot and I would like to talk about the importance of creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth at school.
In my opinion, a safe space is a place in which no one would be negative or show hatred. Everyone outside the LGBTQ+ community owns a safe space, virtually everywhere, to share their thoughts openly and not to be judged. On the other hand, LGBTQ+ students don’t have such a safe space, and we need one. Specifically, I believe the adults at school, our teachers, counselors, and administrators play a crucial role in creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ students. Today, I would like to share my stories of three different adults whose behaviors either helped provide or ruined our safe space.
When I was in 11th grade, I was the only one in the entire school who came out as trans. I was often alone and didn’t feel safe because I felt no one would stand up for me. I really needed a safe space. However, there wasn’t any provided. So I went to our school’s principal and asked him if our school could start a Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA). The Principal agreed, and two other LGBTQ+ students and I became the first three members of the GSA. He picked out a teacher to supervise the GSA, who seemed to be supportive. However, because he had limited knowledge of our community and occasionally made inappropriate jokes about gay people, this supervisor still made us feel unsafe and unsupported. Thus, I had to go back to the principal and advocate for changing to a more supportive supervisor so that the GSA could truly be a safe space for us.
Luckily, our second supervisor Ellen was so supportive and helpful. While giving us ample space to do our own thing, she would provide support whenever we needed it. For example, Ellen gave us lots of encouragement, helped us get permission for events, and handled money. Not only does Ellen know how to be a great supervisor, but she also connected with me on a personal level. She was such a good listener, always taking my feelings into consideration and incorporating my thoughts into running GSA. I always felt open and heard around her. I admire her dearly and will do anything I can to make her proud. My desired role model should be sex-positive, LGBTQ-positive, and feminism-positive. It’s hard to find such a role model in school, but Ellen is an amazing one.
I believe a safe space means LGBTQ+ students won’t be judged and will be provided with equal opportunity. And we really need teachers to help us ensure it. One time, we put out posters to promote GSA events. Shockingly, the posters disappeared the next day. I suspected the posters were taken down by some students. In my opinion, this behavior was very rude and close-minded because they were taking equal opportunity away from us. I was so upset that my passion and motivation for GSA faded away. We told Ellen about it, and she informed the principal. However, the principal said he couldn’t do anything about it. I wish the principal could simply look at the school’s video tape, help us find who did it, and condemn such behavior. His inaction in itself made me feel less safe because he seemed to not be on our side.
At the end of the day we all deserve equal opportunity and the right to a safe space. This is especially important and lifesaving for LGBTQ+ children, teens, and young adults. I hope that my experience also helps show the critical role teachers play in creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth at school. In the future, I hope there will be more teachers like Ellen, who can make an effort to learn about LGBTQ+ community, connect with us and stand up for us. Thank you.
“I believe that a safe space means LGBTQ+ students won’t be judged and will be provided with equal opportunity.” —Lonelypilot
“A safe space is a place in which no one would be negative or show hatred.” —Lonelypilot