Today was National Coming Out Day. A significant portion of our students - wherever we teach - are part of the LGBT community (hereafter referred to as the queer community - the acronym ends up getting too long). A portion of our students are out, but a larger number are not out but are questioning their sexuality or are in the process of gaining the courage to come out.
Queer youth have some scary statistics attached with them. They are bullied at a disproportionately high rate. Queer youth also self-harm, commit suicide, and drop out of school at disproportionally high rates when compared to their straight peers. We must make our schools safer, happier places for our queer students, whether they are out or not. Period.
Over the last couple years at Hillsdale, the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) has taken on a more visible role on campus. For the second year in a row, the GSA has had a lunchtime celebration for National Coming Out Day. Last year I was on a field trip and missed the celebration.
This year? I was there as a straight ally as students and teachers stepped through the door that had been brought out into out great court to announce to the school that they were out. Seeing these important role models - kids (and teachers) who are out and proud of their sexuality - is such a strong message for students who are struggling with their sexuality. There is a supportive community here. There are people here who are like you. And we love you no matter what.
I left lunch proud of my school - and proud of our GSA (led by a former advisee of mine!) - for doing what is right and making a very important and often marginalized group feel safer on the Hillsdale campus.