Tag Archives: LGBT youth

4 Movies With Young LGBT Characters You Need to See

The last few years have been incredible, as far as queer representation in the media goes. There has been a huge surge in the number of LGBT-themed movies and TV shows lately – and, much to everyone’s delight, they’ve actually been pretty good. One of the greatest things about this surge is that the LGBT youth of today doesn’t have to turn to The L Word and Queer as Folk for all their gay media. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those two shows, of course, but… they’re not exactly great examples of the everyday queer experience.)

Looking to watch something inspiring your next date night? The following movies all have relatable storylines and realistic LGBT characters (including, of course, the ones who never really thought of themselves as LGBT before the events in the film).

Do you have any more we should add? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check them out as soon as we can!


Barash/Blush (2015)

When Michal Vinik started casting for Barash/Blush, she knew she wanted to portray a “certain truth [she] didn’t see other places”. She spent months casting the characters, because she wanted to make sure they were portrayed authentically – which meant using real lesbian actresses. The resulting film was an almost-standard coming-of-age lesbian drama. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but this one happens to have a strong sociopolitical climate as its backdrop.

In modern Tel Aviv (which happens to be the most gay-friendly city in the world), an angsty, rebellious teen girl from a bickering home life falls in love with the new girl at school. Thankfully, Vinik wanted to rewrite her own history – one in which she was not “out” as a teenager – so these girls happen to live in a playground of queer possibility. Between the front-and-center romance and the back-burner tensions at home, these girls learn to navigate their world around one another, and learn to lean on each other for support when things get rough (or just plain weird).

While most of us don’t actually live in Tel Aviv, we all exist in places where love and acceptance are often intertwined with hate and fear – and this movie delicately dances the lines between the two. However, contrary to most queer movies we see, the hate and fear aren’t based around the characters’ sexuality, per se, but rather Barash’s sister’s love for a Palestinian man – a romance that has been all-but-forbidden for over a century.


Naz & Maalik (2015)

With the increasing tension and pressure faced by the Muslim community in America (and the increasing denial of homophobia, too), it’s inspiring for me to see a film that examines the cross-section of Islamophobia and homophobia so close to my home. (Okay, so Brooklyn isn’t super close to me, but I did spend time in New York when I was a teenager, and that’s what counts, right?)

In Jay Dockendorf’s fiction debut, the characters of Naz and Maalik are closeted Muslims living in Brooklyn, whose secret relationship with one another catches the attention of the FBI. With the heightened state of security since the “War on Terror” started, as well as the secrecy that Naz and Maalik rely on for their survival, it’s not hard to imagine how things can get out of hand pretty fast.

Naz & Maalik has received mixed reviews from IMDb users, but it exists as one of few realistic representations of queer Muslim life in the United States. Whether you’re a Muslim-American yourself or you’re just trying to understand what struggles they face, Naz and Maalik is worth watching at least once.


Girls Lost (2015)

This one is a bit different than any of the movies I’ve personally seen, but in a way that makes it all the more relatable. (Well, if you happen to be a nerd for all things supernatural, like I am.) This film revolves around three friends, who are all relentlessly tormented in school. They often find themselves hanging out in the greenhouse of one of the girls, but then everything changes when they receive that magical seed…

Even though this movie is, at its forefront, about using magic to overcome your obstacles, it also gives a delicate look at gender navigation and sexism as it pertains to teenagers. Sex, drugs, and cruelty take their toll on the girls, and although it’s not exactly the gentlest look at trans male aggression I’ve seen, it does offer up three (six?) characters that are definitely worth fighting for.

Girls Lost is based on a Swedish YA novel (Pojkarna, Jessica Shiefauer), but the way it appears on the screen is magical and poignant. It actually makes me wish I could read Swedish, because the book is almost always better than the movie – and this movie is pretty good already.


Sworn Virgin (2015)

In a mountain village in northern Albania, girls face a cruel fate – being kidnapped and blindfolded as they’re taken to their new husbands for a life of servitude. Desperate to escape that fate, Hana takes the vow of burrnesha, which says that she will live a life of eternal celibacy, in exchange for the ability to live her life as a man. This is a story about being caught between two realities – in this case, Hana’s curiosity toward the sex she swore off, as well as the man that she became.

Elegantly told through two intertwining linear storylines, Sworn Virgin offers a rarely-seen glimpse into the world of detransitioning and the additional struggles that people face when making this type of a transition. These are the stories that are often used by LGBT dissenters to deny rights to transgender men and women – these are the stories we need to get more educated about, in order to be better allies.

In her directorial debut, Laura Bispuri carefully crafted this film based on the book Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones. While the book and the movie have different settings and specifics, it’s important to realize that real-life sworn virgins do exist. Dones has also filmed a documentary about the burrnesha vows in Albania.

BBC’s Groundbreaking Documentary About a Transgender Teen Picks Up Bafta

The BBC’s groundbreaking documentary about a transgender teenage has picked up a BAFTA this week.

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Titled I Am Leo, the documentary followed Leo, a 13-year-old boy, as he told his story, and how he encountered bullying from people who could not accept who he is.

Born a female, Leo has lived as a boy since the age of 5, and legally changed his name when he was 11.

The film is set across seven months, following Leo and his family as he undergoes hormone therapy, meeting other trans kids, and eagerly waiting for a new passport that confirms his real identity to the world.

The documentary aired last year, on on the BBC’s childrens’ channel CBBC, which is targeted towards an audience of 6 to 12 year olds.

This week it picked up a prize at the British Academy Children’s Awards in the Factual category.

On the award Leo said:

“I want to thank everyone who nominated I Am Leo for this award, and everyone involved in making it a success.

I’m really proud to have been given the opportunity to make so many people proud by telling my story, and being able to tell it in my way.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Nine Lives Media, and especially to Cat [Lewis] for giving me the opportunity.

To [Phil Niland and Lyndsay Rowan], who I spent much time with, for their support and encouragement, and keeping me motivated throughout the months of filming.

I would like to thank my mum for believing in me, staying positive, and being beside me throughout my journey.”

The now-teenage Leo added that sharing his story has helped many others – with a lot of young trans people contacting him for guidance.

School Tries And Fails To Suspend Student For ‘Lesbian’ T-Shirt

Senior Briana Popour had worn the shirt to her South Carolina school plenty of times before, but earlier this month, she was suspended for it for the first time. “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian” it read.

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The Chesnee High School official pulled Popour out of class to tell her the shirt was disruptive. The student handbook bans “clothing deemed distracting, revealing, overly suggestive, or otherwise disruptive,” as well as any attire that is “immodest, obscene, profane, lewd, vulgar, indecent or offensive.”

She explained to WSPA,

When I said something to him about the handbook, he said, ‘Well, not everything is in the handbook.’”

Briana’s mother, Barbara Popour, confronted the official when she went to pick up her daughter.

He does not like people in his school wearing anything that says anything about lesbians, gays, or bisexuals. I was told to change my shirt or go home, so I went home because I wasn’t going to allow him to tell me I can’t wear a shirt that shows who I am.”

When asked for comment, school officials said that the t-shirt was “offensive and distracting”.

However, for Miss Popour, the t-shirt is part of her identity.

She also says that rather than punishing students for self-expression, the school should instead be encouraging their pupils to “be happy with who you are”.

Isn’t that what school is supposed to teach you? To be happy with who you are? Maybe people will be more comfortable showing who they are because you should be able to wear what you want to wear.”

The school has since overturned Popour’s suspension. According to Spartanburg School District 2 spokeswoman Rhonda Henderson,

The dress code disciplinary decision you inquired about was overturned when administration realized that although the shirt was offensive and distracting to some adults in the building, the students were paying it little attention.”

Stunning Pictures Of What It Looks Like To Be A Transgender Teen America

With the transgender conversation taking center stage in American culture, Mashable set out to talk to real teens to see what their lives are really like in 2015. We asked them to talk to their future selves 10 years from now. Their responses are honest, sometimes fearful but always hopeful.

A study by the Youth Suicide Prevention Program found that more than 50% of transgender teens have attempted suicide by their 20th birthday.
The transgender homelessness population is massive, too.

Among the documented 1.6 million homeless youth across America, 40% are transgender, according to a study reported by Trans Equality. Of that population, 90% reported they left their households because of harassment, bullying and family rejection, found a True Colors Fund study. In the same report, another 75% reported physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Read the full story about these brave transgender teenagers on Mashable.

People call me a “transtrender.” It’s people who pretend to be trans to be popular. It’s because of what I look like and how I’m not taking hormones for my transition, but there are plenty of transgender people who don’t want to go through that process. I like how I look, I really do. It’s up to other people to change their perception of me rather than for me to change myself to fit what their perception is. I wear dresses sometimes, but that doesn’t make me less of a man. I definitely have a feminine side. I enjoy having my makeup done and can still look pretty and be a man.”

Mashable | Transgender Teens | Photo by Bryan Derballa

Jamaican Government Revises Security and Safety Policies To Combat LGBT Bullying In Schools

Jamaica’s Ministry of Education has revised the School Security and Safety Policy guidelines in order to include the protection of LGBT youths from bullying within schools across the island.

The guidelines will be implemented by the start of the new academic year in September.

Jamaica’s Minister of Education, Rev. Ronald Thwaites, reminded the public that the guidelines would address acts of bullying by and against all persons.

Bullying not only affects this society (LGBT), as we have heard reports of issues with regards to older students interfering with younger students, issues of gender also arise, all of which offer a clear position on offering zero tolerance for bullying of any sort. The manual is now being prepared and will be fleshed out in short order.”

However, the Inner-City Teacher Coalition proclaims that the guidelines favoured LGBT students and that heterosexual students faced more bullying from groups practicing an alternative lifestyle is much more widespread.

Reverend Thwaites added that the government had the right to protect all its citizens including the LGBT community.

A number of civil society groups, including members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), fraternity, have raised with me, issues of bullying. It is of serious concern and the policy of Government and of the ministry (of education) is to protect the sexual integrity of everyone, so the fact that they raise the concern would be an important issue for us.”

The Jamaican government has received criticisms from local and international human rights group over the country’s homophobic culture. Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller ran on a campaign to improve the conditions of the LGBT community in Jamaica, and this move is seen as a step in that direction.

Sarah Silverman, Ruby Rose, Sia, and Fortune Feimster Attend LGBT Youth Fundraiser

Los Angeles LGBT Center held “An Evening With Women” fundraiser at the Hollywood Palladium on Saturday, and in a whole host of celebrities were in force to support.

Sarah Silverman performed her always shocking jokes about rape and her vagina. Other performers at the event included the singer Sia and the band No Doubt.

Talking after the event, Silverman said

It’s always a blast. It’s nice to be in a room of like-minded people. That sounds very elitist, but it’s really very inclusive. It’s a great crowd, and it’s a room filled with people I admire.”

Following Silverman’s standup, Sia took the stage wearing her signature face-obscuring wig, which she removed following her three-song set to thank the audience.

Comedian Fortune Feimster pointed out that the night was important because it was all about powerful women before joking, “I’m just impressed to see any lesbian leave their house.” She also got to kiss Silverman, taken to facebook with the following message…

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In the spirit of raising money last night for the LGBT Center in LA, Sarah Silverman made out with me! Yay fundraisers!

Feimster joined a long list of celebrity attendees including Victoria Justice, Alex Newell, Constance Zimmer, Ruby Rose and

Pauley Perrette who hosted the event said

“I’m so proud of our LGBT center in Hollywood. It’s so important to these kids across America who don’t have access to this whatsoever. They can’t even tell anyone in their own town. And here we are with these safe, beautiful places for kids to go. It’s fantastic.”

Gays and Lesbians Bullied More Often in Childhood

A new study suggests bullying starts as early as elementary and middle school, and occurs more frequently for students who later identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The study found that from fifth through 10th grade, children who later identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual were nearly twice as likely to be victims of weekly bullying during the previous year.

Study lead author Dr. Mark Schuster, chief of general paediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, says

There’s been a history of saying ‘kids will be kids’ and that they just have to learn to deal with bullying, but we’ve recognised more and more that bullying has serious short-term and long-term consequences.”

The consequences of bullying can include physical injury, anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress and negative school performance.

The findings were published in a letter in the May 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers surveyed more than 4,000 students from Los Angeles County, Houston, and Birmingham, Ala., about being bullied when they were in fifth, seventh and 10th grades.

During the 10th-grade survey, the students also answered two questions about their sexual orientation. Overall, 21 percent of the girls and 8 percent of the boys said they were not 100 percent heterosexual or straight, or that they were not only attracted to the opposite sex.

Students who identified as being gay, lesbian or bisexual in 10th grade were three times as likely as students who identified solely as heterosexual to report being bullied at least weekly over the previous year. In fifth graders who later identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, 13 percent reported being bullied, compared to 8 percent of heterosexual students. In seventh grade, those numbers were 8 percent versus 4 percent in those who said they were heterosexual.

Stacee Reicherzer, a licensed professional counselor who has worked with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) youth, and is transgender herself, said

In fifth grade, the more likely reason that these children are being singled out is due to nonconformance with the defined gender roles for girls or boys at their schools. They are picked on because they are not masculine enough boys or feminine enough girls.”

They may also feel different enough from their peers that they are shy and less willing to engage socially, making them a target, Reicherzer said.

Bullying overall declined as the children grew older, dropping from a high of more than 13 percent in fifth grade to 4 percent in high school for those who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual teens were also approximately 56 percent more likely than heterosexual teens to experience physical harm, threats of harm, name-calling, being the subject of nasty rumors or social exclusion at least weekly over the previous year in all three grades.

The study did not ask specifically about cyberbullying, which may increase as children get older, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

The researchers didn’t ask whether students identified as transgender, but Reicherzer said that relatively few people identify themselves as transgender during adolescence. Still, this study may offer some insights for transgender teens, who tend to struggle in school and lack on-site resources, she said.

All the experts agreed that parents’ vigilance and open communication with their children were important to identifying bullying.

Concluding, Dr. Andrew Adesman said

Parents should speak to their children to find out what happened at school that was good and also bad, particularly about events in the cafeteria and on the school bus, two of the most likely settings for bullying.”

Signs that a child is being bullied include unexplained injuries, lost or damaged personal property, a reluctance to go to school, recurring stomach aches or headaches, a loss of friends, a drop in grades, avoiding social situations, and changes in mood or eating or sleeping habits, he said.

Schuster also added

Parents should take bullying seriously, and teachers, coaches, religious leaders, physicians and all of us who have contact with kids need to be alert and help support parents.”

Parents also need to be aware of what they are teaching their children, he said. Mocking others who are gay, even privately, teaches children that targeting different groups is acceptable and is particularly traumatic if a child realizes he or she is gay, he added.

Since bullying can become an additional risk factor for depression and self-harm, schools play a major role in prevention, said Noa Saadi, a social worker at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

School climate and culture can have a significant impact on academic achievement and student behavior. Therefore, consistent efforts to create school environments that are safe for all students should be a priority as kids tend to thrive in environments that are nurturing and free of harassment and bullying.”

Ellen DeGeneres to Present Scandal’s Kerry Washington with GLAAD Award

Scandal star Kerry Washington will be honored with the Vanguard Award, at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, and talk show host Ellen Degeneres, will be present it to her. Ellen has also received the same honor at the 9th GLAAD Media Awards ceremony, and has been nominated for 12 GLAAD Media Awards total.

Washington is big-time LGBT ally. Not, only does she work on the LGBT-inclusive show, Scandal, she has always supported LGBT equality, participating in GLAAD’s annual anti-bullying campaign, Spirit Day, by wearing purple to show her support for LGBT youth. She has also talked about the importance of stopping bullying on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Washington has also spoken out against the repression of LGBT people in Russia and Africa, and advocated for marriage equality for same-sex couples.

In 2009 Washington was also appointed by President Barrack Obama to the President’s Committee of the Arts and Humanities, and in 2014 Washington was named on Time’s 100 Most Influential People list.

“Throughout her illustrious career, Kerry Washington has consistently brought life to characters that encourage acceptance of LGBT people. Her outspoken support for equality, both her at home and abroad, has sent messages of hope and empowerment to fans all over the world, fostering dialogue that builds understanding and helps move hearts and minds.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO

Bisexual Teen Says There Should Be Better Support for LGBT Foster Children

According to the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (the BAAF), 68,840 children were in the care of local authorities as of 31st March 2014. This denotes a significant rise on the 68,060 children in care as of 2013 and 65,520 children as of 2011.

Although the rate of children in care is on the up, several thousands of children are adopted each year too, with three and a half thousand children having been adopted in 2012. But while adoption is seen as a good thing, it also poses significant problems. Not just the usual issues of children learning how to settle in in their new surroundings and their new homes, but the issue of parents being against (or failing to understand) their foster child’s identity.

This is what 18 year old Emma Willoughby has spoken to ITV Fixers (a campaign that allows young people to express themselves) about. Emma explains that after discovering she was bisexual whilst in foster care, she didn’t feel comfortable to come out or discuss her sexuality at all with her foster parents.

“One of my foster care placements I was very fond of the people I lived with but I found they were very traditional, and I felt I couldn’t talk to them about my sexuality.

As this time I was dating a girl and I felt I couldn’t take them home because I was afraid of being found out and it just made me feel I was living two different lives not being able to live the one life that I really wanted to.”

She says that her foster parents were conservative and that she found their views upsetting. However, Emma also feels that this could be tackled with information which is why, in collaboration with the the Somerset Foster team, she has created a booklet of suggestions for foster carers and plans to host a series of workshops to educate foster carers on having LGBT children.

Ground Breaking Australian Coming of Age LGBT Teen Drama Could Becoming Soon

Australian’s are on verge of seeing a new groundbreaking television drama on the TV screens.

The planned TV series ‘Subject to Change’, focuses on the lives of high-school students. However, what sets this project apart from others, is that its central characters identify as either gay, lesbian or bisexual.

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The pilot episode of of the show was filmed in Sydney last month and is currently in post production. The producers are planning worldwide film festival release next year. Creator/director Daniel Mercieca said ‘Subject to Change’ comes at an important time for Australia’s TV landscape, which is at a “turning point”.

“The arrival of streaming services like Netflix, Stan and Presto means Australians will be able to watch the quality TV they want to watch – when and where they want to watch – not just the ‘safe’ programs

Subject to Change has strongest appeal with a young adult demographic (15-35) yet still can find an emotional connection with all viewers, in a similar way to Puberty Blues. It is relatable, realistic and gritty.”

Daniel Mercieca

Star of the show, Maryann Wright said the series had international potential and said off the back of the trailer alone she had been contacted by overseas teens coming to terms with their own sexuality.

“It’s a coming-of-age show, no matter what sexuality you are. At 16 you’re figuring out who you are, what type of person you want to become

With this project there is a mix of characters but the focus is on LGBT characters which exist in every school. The show is bringing a normalcy that already exists in society to the TV screen. It doesn’t try to legitimate, it illuminates and it’s a long time coming.”

Maryann Wright

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James Ritchie added that traditionally gay characters had occupied a niche onscreen presence, such as “funny sidekick”, but rarely as central figures.

“In the past, it has been difficult to see these kinds of characters portrayed without stereotype. To have this project where they are not seen as novelties but instead as true and deep and meaningful characters makes our job a lot easier.”

James Ritchie

Glow Worm Films, the production house responsible for the pilot, remain in negotiation to bring a fully-fledged series to

For more information visit: subjecttochange.com.au

‘Don’t be a bystander’ this Anti-Bullying Week

Stonewall is working with a number of celebrities, workplaces, and schools, to tackle abusive language this Anti-Bullying Week by supporting the NoBystanders campaign. The campaign has already been backed by celebrities including Stephen Fry, Nicole Scherzinger, Perez Hilton, Sinitta, Clare Balding and David Walliams.

The campaign comes in response to shocking figures from Stonewall’s research in the UK, where more than 75,000 young people will be bullied this year simply for being gay, and 21,000 of these will attempt suicide. Homophobic bullying and abuse can have a devastating impact on young people’s self-esteem, with one in three gay pupils who experience homophobic bullying changing their plans for future education because of it.

The charity has sent Anti-Bullying Week education packs, which contain NoBystanders pledge posters and guidance on how to mark Anti-Bullying Week, to more than 1,000 schools and local authorities in the UK.

700 Stonewall Diversity Champions – who together  employ more than six million people – have also been sent materials to help them tackle abuse in the workplace.

“This Anti-Bullying Week we’re asking individuals and groups to do their bit to tackle abuse and prejudice that still blights too many lives. More than half of gay pupils experience verbal bullying and one in six experience physical abuse. People can show their support for the campaign by tweeting using #nobystanders and by ordering their free pin badge at nobystanders.org.uk.”

James Taylor, Stonewall’s Head of Policy

BBC’s Childrens Channel to Show Key Documentary About a Trans Teen

The BBC plans to air a documentary about a transgender teen on one of it children’s TV channel next week.

Titled ‘My Life: My Name Is Leo’, the TV programme will follow Leo, a 13-year-old boy, telling his story, and how he encountered bullying from people who could not accept who he is.

The film is set across seven months, following Leo and his family as he undergoes hormone therapy, meeting other trans kids, and eagerly waiting for a new passport that confirms his real identity to the world.

Executive producers, Kez Margrie told BBC’s in house magazine Ariel.

‘I had wanted to do a story on a transgender child for a while, because I know there are kids out there having a tough time. But up to now, we hadn’t found the right story to tell, and we trusted Nine Lives Media to tell this one sensitively. It feels very much like his journey and story, as told by him.’

Kez Margrie, Executive Producer

[tweet_dis]’The great thing about making documentaries like this for children is that they’re not born with prejudices.'[/tweet_dis]

Cat Lewis, Executive Producer

My Life: I Am Leo will be broadcast as part of CBBC’s anti-bullying week on 17 November at 6pm.

Millions to Dress in Purple Today, to Mark the Fifth Annual #SpiritDay

Millions of LGBT people and their allies will dress in purple on today to mark the fifth annual Spirit Day.

Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and take a stand against bullying. Following a string of high-profile suicide deaths of gay teens in 2010, GLAAD worked to involve millions of teachers, workplaces, celebrities, media outlets and students in going purple on social media or wearing purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Spirit Day now occurs every year on the third Thursday in October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, and has become the most visible day of support for LGBT youth.

Now observed annually, millions of individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities are expected to wear purple on Thursday, and color their social media profiles purple as well.

GLAAD offers these tips for participating in this year’s Spirit Day:

The color purple was chosen because it symbolizes “spirit” on the Rainbow Flag.

Stonewall Launches ‘Coming Out’ Guidance for Young People

Stonewall has launched a new guide for young people who think they might be lesbian, gay or bisexual.

‘ComingOut: Answers to Some of the Questions You May Have’ discusses in plain English issues including religion, having children, getting married and bullying at school.

Stonewall’s research shows that homophobic bullying remains endemic in British schools and that many young people still feel isolated and unsupported when coming out. Coming Out provides practical information on how to talk to friends and family as well as information on how to access support that is available across the country.

“Coming out can be a daunting and confusing time for young people. Our latest guidance addresses many of the common questions that this process presents in a positive and down-to-earth way that young people can relate to and understand.”

Wayne Dhesi, Stonewall’s Youth Coordinator

Stonewall’s Coming Out guide follows on from ‘So you think your child is gay?’ – a guide for parents who think their child might be lesbian, gay or bisexual. The new resource will be distributed to local authorities, schools, libraries and community and youth groups across Britain.

Coming Out: Answers to Some of the Questions You May Have can be downloaded from Stonewall’s website: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/documents/coming_out.pdf

Nobody Should Be Bullied for Being Who They Are – Show Your Support by Going Purple – #spiritday

The Hetrick-Martin Institute is a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of LGBT youth.

This touching video was produced by the GLAAD team when they visited New York City and interviewed LGBT young people about being bullied.

They shared their experiences with bullying and how bullying has affected their lives.

Watch the video below and see their personal stories:

Nobody should be bullied for being who they are. You can show your support by going purple. Use #spiritday on all social media.

On Thursday We Wear Purple – #SpiritDay

On Thursday 16th October, millions of Americans will wear purple on Spirit Day in a stand against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.

Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and take a stand against bullying. Following a string of high-profile suicide deaths of gay teens in 2010, GLAAD worked to involve millions of teachers, workplaces, celebrities, media outlets and students in going purple on social media or wearing purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Spirit Day now occurs every year on the third Thursday in October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, and has become the most visible day of support for LGBT youth.

In recognition of this, “Orange Is The New Black” stars Selenis Leyva and Yael Stone have recorded a message encouraging people to join the thousands of people taking part in Spirit Day this year.

Also backing this cause is the cast of The Fosters and Faking It

 

US High School Names Openly Gay Student Homecoming Queen

Last week, April Swartz-Larson learned she was nominated to be the first lesbian student in McKinney High School’s history to be Homecoming Queen. Then on Friday, April’s classmates proudly named her homecoming queen.

April said she was surprised when she heard students talking about nominating her, as the school had never had any another openly gay student be nominated for the homecoming court before.

“My heart was racing. That moment still doesn’t seem real to me… Before it started, I was totally not expecting it. But by the end I wasn’t really surprised because I heard a lot of people told me they voted for me.

I’m really excited. I try to play it off as having a cool demeanor, but I’ve let that go. I really want to win.”

April Swartz-Larson

April’s friend, McKinney High School senior Emilee Swim, started campaigning with a Twitter message encouraging people to vote for April. Soon, the social media response was enough to get people to make posters and hand out flyers.

“I wasn’t necessarily surprised because everyone loves her. She has the biggest heart. She’s really accepted by everyone.”

Emilee Swim

The road to the homecoming court started with nominations, and April was among the top five write-in vote getters. Last week, the students voted for the king and queen winners, who were announced during halftime homecoming game against Denison.

While the other nominees for queen wore bright-colored dresses, April wore a dark suit with purple shirt and turquoise bow tie. When the announcer named her the winner, she jumped in the air and threw up the punk rock “sign of the horns” with both hands. Someone put a tiara on her head and a sash around her shoulders.

April’s father, Darrin Larson, said that he was happily surprised when his daughter told him the news. He escorted her onto the field Friday night.

“Her whole kind of being doesn’t say, ‘homecoming queen’. She’s not one of the popular kids, but kids seem to really like her.”

Darrin Larson

He said that April lost some friends when she first came out. Before freshman year started, she cut her long blonde hair short and dyed it black.

April said some friends she had before stopped hanging out with her, and didn’t know what to make of her announcement. Now, however, those friends will say ‘Hi’ to her, and are more accepting of who she is, she said.

“It was pretty hard when I first came out. Everyone’s kind of grown up a little bit, and they’ve seen I’m the same person.”

April Swartz-Larson

Last year, C.C. Winn High School in Eagle Pass voted for two homecoming queens representing the school’s chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance, rather than selecting a king and queen.

In 2010, a transgender girl was forbidden by the principal at North Dallas High School from running for homecoming queen.

In 2009, the University of North Texas student body voted not to allow same-sex couples to run for homecoming court.

Although she hasn’t been directly targeted for bullying, April said she was surprised to win the homecoming vote as a student in a conservative community.

“It’s kind of cliché, but beyond me I think it’s awesome we live in McKinney, Texas, and that I’d be nominated for queen. It’s incredible.

I’m just proud of everyone I go to school with. I’m just proud to be a part of that.”

April Swartz-Larson

 

Harry Potter Teaches Children to Be More Accepting of Gay People, Study Shows

In the esteemed educational institution of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the spells are electrifying, giant spiders and mythical beasts can be found roaming the grounds and the ghosts live in portraits.

Almost every aspect of J.K Rowling’s fictional academy only exists on the page, sprung from her imagination or on theatre screens and DVD discs. But what the world in the Harry Potter books does portray is unfortunate ignorance. ‘Purebloods’ are witches and wizards with magical parents like Ron and Harry, ‘Half-Bloods’ have one magical parent while the offensive term ‘Mudbloods’ is used to describe those with no magical heritage, like Hermione who has Muggles (non-wizarding people) for parents.

Throughout the books we’re shown how Ron, Harry and various others stick up for Hermione and with the readers and viewers empathising with that (along with the various oppressed magical creatures in the series), it seems that we’ve learnt how to become more accepting.

That statement comes from a new study conducted in Northern Italy. Researchers gave high schoolers two questionnaires – one asked which books they’d read while the other asked their opinions on gay people. Interestingly, the results gathered showed that those who had read the Harry Potter books were more accepting of gay people than those who hadn’t read them at all. Not only that but those who answered saying that they identified with Harry himself were also far more likely to show positive attitudes towards gay people.

There is the point being made that as conservative and religious families are often wary of magical related media, the high schoolers who haven’t read the book might come from conservative backgrounds anyway. However, author Loris Vezzali told NY Mag’s Science of Us team that “The books do not directly refer to real-world groups, and so their message can be easily applied to several stigmatized categories,” giving us even more of a reason to love Harry Potter and his magical adventures.

Source:NY Mag

Are Lesbians Tolerated more Than Gay Men?

When professional female athletes comes out, it’s treated as something of a non-event. However, for a man the story will make headlines for weeks. It will be a moral discussion, manhood will be questioned and support will be given to those who feel threatened.

Why? Because we live in a male-focused society.

Studies have shown that tolerance of lesbians tends to be higher than that of gay men, and lesbians are less likely to be targeted for violence because of their sexuality. Gay males are more likely to be targeted not just with verbal abuse but for crimes such as theft, vandalism, or violence.

A study in the UK found that LGBT teenagers are nearly twice as likely to be bullied by straight classmates. However, in young adulthood, lesbians and straight women faced about the same amount of harassment, young gay men were nearly four times more likely to experience abuse than their straight colleagues.

So what makes lesbianism so inoffensive? Lesbian relationships are often seen as not real relationships, because sex between 2 women is not seen as real sex because a penis is not involved. And to have real sex, you need a man.

It is also ok for women to be physically affectionate with each other (to a point) without attracting negative attention.

Switch that to 2 men being affectionate, and society freaks out. Men are ‘supposed’ to act a certain way, and anything hinting difference is mocked.

This also goes to dress – a women dressed masculine maybe hassled for looking like a ‘dyke’, but is less likely to be physically threatened, which happens to men wearing skirts.

So what does it boil down to. Simple – female invisibility. It might seem illogical to think of female invisibility as a good thing, but it does mean that women who don’t match what society expects of them can fly under the radar.

In contrast, the existence of male visibility and privilege means many men are denied the right to be themselves.

 

‘The Same Difference’ Documentary Highlights Deep-Rooted Problems Within the Lesbian Community

When you’re part of a marginalised group, ‘there’s a high chance of discrimination’ is almost inked in small print at the bottom of the sign-up sheet, as is the nature of the thing.

It’s something we must strive to espouse through legal means (in helping change laws, for example) or perhaps through voicing opinions and changing viewpoints or by helping encourage and foster diversity amongst the exclusionary straight, white, boys club ranks that the patriarchy kindly laid out for each and everyone of us, with homophobic and racist foundations to boot.

But what happens when what you’re up against is far bigger than you imagined? What happens when they problems you face are not just external, but when the very people who identify as you do turn their backs against you for arbitrary reasons that for some reason are marginalising you even more than society already does?

For many within the lesbian community this happens regularly, which is why one filmmaker has put together ‘The Same Difference’, a documentary to help point it out.

Depicted in the above teaser trailer The Same Difference plans to cover what are arguably some of the biggest social challenges (e.g things outside of legal recognition and same-gender marriage) facing the lesbian community today – within themselves.

Borked mindsets suggest that despite already not conforming to the socially accepted norm (‘heteronormativity’) some lesbian identified women feel that it’s their onus to force each other into these norms, as if lesbians are square pegs to be fit into round holes. That’s obviously not the case, but why should a group further alienate or segregate itself on account of discriminatory ideals that the group doesn’t prescribe to in the first place?

The examples of this that The Same Difference provides extend to studs being unable to observe traits such as long hair or dresses that are often reserved for femme lesbians. While it also covers the topic of bisexuals within the lesbian community and why some people just don’t understand that a woman who loves another woman should be welcomed into a group of women-loving-women with lady-loving arms rather than being shunned because their place on the Kinsey Scale isn’t quite where some would like it to be.

The Same Difference is inarguably important then, for the topics it sheds much needed light on and you can find more out about it at the link below.

Kicked Out for Being Trans

Watch this insightful video and learn more about one transgender teen’s life on the streets, and other gay, lesbian and bisexual youth who become tragically homeless at such a young age.

“People look down upon us, without stopping to think that no homeless person is on the streets by choice. Something in their lives, or some events, have led to them being on the street.”

Anonymous transgender youth featured this in a powerful video, as a camera follows behind him, as he visits the places he used to sleep and ask for spare money.

He recalls how expressing his desire to medically transition at age 15 was “[my] introduction to the streets.”

He goes on..

“…as soon as I started living as male full-time, everything changed. I became very much more self-confident; I was beginning to be able to be the person I wanted to be.”

While he found many other homeless youth for companionship, life was restless and disheartening.

“…cracked down on clearing out places where there are homeless people sleeping because it’s an ‘eyesore'”; how the average person can’t fully understand hunger; and how most passersby will offer food to a dog before a human, yet the rare kindnesses of strangers can “restore your faith in humanity just a little bit.”

“Glee” star Jane Lynch Discusses Her Early Struggles With Being Gay

Jane Lynch has spoken to Huffington Post about her early struggles with sexuality, expressing that at the time, being gay “felt like a disease” in her early teen years.

“I was in the closet for so long and it tortured me. I thought I was the only [gay] person in the world. It wasn’t a fun thing.”

Jane Lynch

Now, the actress says she’s proud of the impact that “Glee” has had in terms of opening doors for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teen community, even if the show’s immense success came as a bit of a surprise to her and the rest of the cast.

“I’m glad that this show and the fact that I’m out and open about it will perhaps ease the hearts and minds of some kids where it’s not so easy… They think it’s legitimizing a lifestyle that leads to ruin and tears at the fabric of society, and I think that we’re finding that’s just hogwash.”

Jane Lynch

 

 

 

We Are the Youth – Diversity Of Today’s LGBT Youth

Take a closer look at this stunning photo project, We Are the Youth – that captures the beauty and diversity of today’s LGBT Youth in the United States.

A collaboration between award-winning journalist Diana Scholl and photographer Laurel Golio, We Are the Youth is an ongoing photographic journalism project that chronicles the individual stories of LGBT youth in America.

The duo, who set out to create portraits paired with “as told to” interviews in the individuals own voices. The photos captures diversity and uniqueness among today’s of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth population, with the goal being to addresses the lack of visibility of LGBT young people by providing a space to share stories in an honest and respectful way.

Since its inception in 2010, We Are the Youth has profiled more than 80 young people from all walks of life and from across the United States. Now, what began as a web-based project four years ago is being turned into a stunning new book, released by Space-Made, an alternative media company, in conjunction with Interrupt Magazine. The book will be released the end of June. Pre-order your copy today.

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Where the heart is… The Plight of LGBT Homeless Youth

Comedienne Wanda Sykes said in one of her routines that…

“It’s harder being gay than it is being black. It is, because there’s some things that I had to do as gay that I didn’t have to do as black—I didn’t have to come out black! I didn’t have to sit my parents down and tell them…”

The absurdity of the parallel can be great fun, but the results are often not. The home and family is one of the first, most important, and (in certain cases) the only support system available to young people.

Homophobia and trans-phobia in those homes can very suddenly take that away. An incomplete education can make it difficult for any homeless youth to find work and support themselves, and being LGBT as well comes with particular challenges that remain unrecognized and unaddressed.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for the Homeless (both non-profit organizations based in the United States of America), 50% of LGBT youth between the ages of 13 and 24 years who openly identify as such to their families, receive a negative reaction.1 In a 1987 study, 26% of those who came out were cast out from their homes by their own families. As of 2007, between 20% and 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. Adjusting for the statistic that between 3% and 5% of the U.S. population identify as LGBT, we can consider that homelessness affects the Stateside LGBT youth to a disproportionate amount.

As the foster care system and homeless shelters are designed for heterosexual and cis-gendered people, this isn’t a simple matter of more LGBT youth availing of these “safety nets”. Many of these systems keep to a basis of gender segregation housing, and many of the people involved in the system, supposedly meant to help, carry the same hostility that would often have put LGBT youth out of their homes in the first place. More than one-third of LGBT homeless youth were violently assaulted in the care of social services2.

As a result, many LGBT youth feel safer living on the street than in a foster home or shelter, but according to the National Runaway Switchboard, LGBT homeless youth are a full 7 times more likely than heterosexual homeless youth to be victims of a crime3, and 58% percent are sexually assaulted compared 33% of their homeless straight peers4.

While homeless youth regardless of sexual orientation are at a high risk of developing emotional disorder and mental illness, the additional pressures of LGBT discrimination in society can trigger and sustain an even greater need for counseling and therapy among LGBT homeless youth on issues specifically applicable to LGBT youth.

The solutions are as simple as the issue—which is to say, it’s not. We need funding, leadership and volunteers, to implement shelters by LGBT people for LGBT people. We need organizations to sustain this development. We need awareness, and the ability to fight discrimination at any and every level. LGBT youth need as many people as possible in the world to open their hearts and make room for them in it. Home is, after all, where the heart is.

Image source


1 Ray, Nicholas. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless.

2 Thompson, S. J., Safyer, A. W. & Pollio, D. E. (2001). Differences and predictors of family reunification among subgroups of runaway youths using shelter services. Social Work Research, 25(3).

3 Ray, N. op. cit.

4 Uwujaren, Jarune. “Some Facts About Homelessness Among LGBTQ Youth.” Everyday Feminism. Everyday Feminism Magazine, 28 Feb. 2013.

Tegan and Sara Discuss How Their lives Got better After Coming Out

The “It Gets Better” project is an ongoing campaign to send support to LGBT youth worldwide, a large part of which comes in the form of videos from LGBT people sharing stories of how their lives have improved since they were teens.

In this instalment, duo Tegan And Sara discuss their childhood in conservative Calgary, Alberta.

The siblings recall their tomboy youth and middle school bullying as well as the initial discovery of their sexuality and the ups and downs of their coming out in an environment that wasn’t very welcoming.

Watch there Tegan And Sara’s video…

Tegan and Sara 01

The Open Artist – Celebrities Support for LGBT Youth

Although released a few years back these videos still give us strength… Watch, embrace and take strength.

Celebrity Support for LGBT Youth

Beth Ditto and The Gossip talk openly about coming out and LGBT Youth.

Singer Beth Ditto, guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Blilie, talk about being gay, lesbian, the outcast, and making it big.

Calpernia for LifeWorks Mentoring and Artists with Open Arms

The Open Artist

Artists strive to authentically express themselves through their art. The “Open Artist” movement, initially referring to openly gay artists and their unique talents, now simply encompasses artists driven to careers that embrace their own true identities, and support others doing the same. This growing group of artists represents a collective of creativity that rises above limitations and preconceptions to promote the “Open Artist” movement, and serve as an example to growing generations of talent to come.

LifeWorks

LifeWorks, is a nationally acclaimed program dedicated to helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth reach their goals and dreams through mentoring and programs/activities that build achievement in five areas: wellness, home, education, career and personal development.

Redefining Gender Norms – Beautiful Photo Series By Lindsay Morris

Photographer Lindsay Morris has spent six years photographing a gender nonconforming camp for children ages 5-12. She is now looking for funding to turn these images into a book.

Camp You Are You* offers a unique opportunity for gender-nonconforming children to express themselves creatively in an environment that is safe and free from judgment. I have been documenting the celebratory atmosphere of this camp for the past six years while attending with a loved one. These images serve to tell the story of the first generation of children allowed to lead an openly LGBT childhood. I would like to share this experience with others in the form of a documentary art book.

Lindsay Morris

The ultimate goal for these images to assist in untangling the perception of LGBT youth.

By backing the production of this book and a traveling exhibition, you can help raise awareness and continue the important dialogue regarding gender-nonconforming children taking place in public and the media today.

Lindsay Morris

A Book Which Chronicles the struggles of LGBT Youth and Offers Strategies for Support

Recent studies find that LGBT youth face bullying at a much higher rate than their straight peers and gender conforming peers, and are at increased risk for suicide. Without support, LGBT youth struggle interpersonally and academically. The authors illuminate these challenges as well as the triumphs of LGBT youth through compelling personal narratives from more than 100 LGBT individuals and allies. “SAFE SPACES” chronicles the lives of LGBT youth of all ages, weaving together recent news stories, research studies and public policy trends. Action Steps and Reflection Points are embedded throughout, offering readers positive and tangible ways to make their own homes, schools and communities more inclusive and welcoming of LGBT people.

“Campus Pride commends the authors of this timely and thoughtful book. This is a ‘must read’ for anyone wanting to help make safer, more welcoming places for LGBT youth.” – Shane Windmeyer, Founder/Executive Director, Campus Pride.

“SAFE SPACES” points readers to a host of community and national LGBT resources, and includes a bibliography of academic, policy and news material related to LGBT issues. Readers will learn creative ways to support LGBT friendly teachers, coaches, community leaders and family members, and to challenge those that are not.

“SAFE SPACES: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth” is available for sale online at sales@abc-clio.comand Amazon.com

About the Authors

Annemarie Vaccaro, PhD,is a faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She has served as a facilitator for the national Campus Pride professional development series for LGBT student advisors, and is co-creator of a faculty fellows program designed to assist college faculty in making their curriculum LGBT inclusive. Her research on diversity has been published in various journals including The Journal of LGBT Youth, The Journal of GLBT Family Studies, and The Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health. Gerri August, PhD, is an assistant professor of Educational Studies at Rhode Island College. She serves on the board of Infinity Volunteers, and has co-facilitated a workshop series aimed at training teachers on diversity. She was recently honoured as an Education Alliance Fellow at Brown University, and is a faculty advisor for the LGBT student organisation at Rhode Island College. Megan S. Kennedy, PhD, is a faculty member in the Education Department at Westfield State University. She has co-presented at regional and national conferences on the topic of LGBT literature in the classroom, and is a faculty advisor for Westfield State University’s LGBT student organisation.

Source – http://www.mmdnewswire.com/authors-annemarie-vaccaro-gerri-august-megan-s-kennedy-77168.html