Victimization Of Glbt Youths Essay

5751 words - 23 pages

"Where do human rights begin? In small places close to home."~ Eleanor Roosevelt"In 1995, Derek Henkle was a very bight 14-year old student in the Gifted and Talented program in high school. Despite the on-going harassment and abuse he had endured because he was openly gay, Derek had expectation of graduation with high honors and attending a top college. Later that year, two boys strung a lasso around Derek's neck and threatened to drag him from their pick-up truck. School officials responded to the incident by transferring Derek to an alternative high school for students with educational and behavioral problems, stating that Derek would be "safer" there. At the new school, the principal demanded Derek to hide his sexual orientation, and said to him, "I won't have you acting like a fag." After a semester, Derek was transferred again for his safety. Again, Derek was told that he was not allowed to talk about his sexual orientation to other students or openly identify himself as gay. Despite the gag order, word got around. In the fall of 1996, two school police officers witnessed Derek being punched six times by another student, did nothing to break up the fight, and even went as far as discouraging him from reporting the incident to school, even though Derek was bleeding severely and had hearing and ear drum trauma. After this incident, at age 16, Derek quit school," (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, 2002).IntroductionThere are many people in this world - some who even live close to home - who exhibit hate toward those who are "different." Frankly, it is unacceptable. Ignorance and intolerance affects society as a whole, which is why there is a need for strong activists to stand up for those who may be unable to do so for themselves. Advocacy can be thought of as the act of directly representing, defending, intervening, or supporting others in favor of something, such as a cause, and it is important to approach advocacy where actions take place in a systemic and purposeful way to defend, represent, and advocate the case of an individual, group, while promoting social justice (Hoefer, R., p. 8). Despite the freedom in America, many students in schools face injustices everyday based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.The Issue: Adolescent Sexuality in SchoolsUnfortunately, Derek's story is a common situation that takes place for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youths in public high schools. There is no denying that equity in school is not forthcoming for LGBT students (Macgilliway, I.K., p. 133). Although school is often thought to be a safe environment for students, those youth who identify as LGBT, usually, have a much different experience. For them, school is a place where harassment and victimization occur, a place where prejudice and intolerance occur, not only from their peers, but also from their teachers, counselors, administrators, and personnel. Living in a democratic society, one would think it is...

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