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GLAAD

College students give advice to LGBTQ youth experiencing bullying

October 18, 2018

GLAAD's Spirit Day floods the internet and all media with positivity, love, and acceptance for LGBTQ youth who are experiencing bullying. 

We know that days of awareness for the LGBTQ community can be both joyful and painful. LGBTQ History Month, National Coming Out Day, and Bullying Prevention Month all bring back memories tethered to the upsetting reality that even though LGBTQ equality has expanded, many of us are still struggling to find acceptance in our families, schools, and communties.

Click here to take the pledge to stand against bullying

LGBTQ youth must know that they are not alone in the fight for acceptance. If you are or have been experiencing bullying, read the messages of support below from 13 LGBTQ college students, and members of GLAAD's Campus Ambassador Program, who are fighting for you and with you to end bullying.

Chris Balderas

UCLA

Persevere. Stay kind and stick to your values. Don’t let anyone convince you that you need to change how you act, talk, walk, think etc. Own it. It may not seem like it now, but the world is an enormous place with different kinds of people, some of whom are experiencing similar struggles; you are not alone and with time you will come to realize that. The strongest and most successful people in the world have endured the greatest hardships. Trust in the strong, empathetic, independent and intellectual person all these struggles will shape you to be.

Jayson Bijak

University of Houston

Remember that being bullied does not make you less than. Your identity and existence is real and valid, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Harold Daniel

Florida International University

I never really knew when all the pain was going to end. Look for distractions from all the pain and use all that energy and invest into a hobby. Surround yourself with people who embrace you unconditionally and will stand up for you. Find an adult who you are comfortable speaking to, don't be scared to talk to one, whether it is a teacher or counselor. 

Liam Fifer

Rhode Island College

The greatest thing you can do in the face of bullying is continuing to be you. Keep wearing that eyeshadow that you love so much, cut your hair the way you want it, and walk with your head held high. Be the untouchable badass that you know that you are--but don’t be afraid to cry. It’s okay to get hurt, and feel what you need to feel. Stay in touch with yourself. Don’t make yourself small or hide your feelings; speak up and speak out against the people who are bullying you. Above everything, always use your experiences to make you kinder.

Kayla Inman

St. John’s University

My advice to any LGBTQIA+ youth experiencing bullying is to find your chosen family, and learn that school is not forever... Do not let the hate they feel inside penetrate your aura of positivity and love.

Tae Johnson

Texas A&M University

My advice to LGBTQ youth is to love yourself, understand that you are beautiful, you are important and that you are meant to be here in this exact moment. You matter! The hate of the world is something you must never let get to you, no matter what, you must always understand the importance of your place in the world & how your life, your journey and your story can be life changing for someone else. I understand that somedays you might want to cry, others you might want to be left to yourself, but for me those days were the days I discovered my strength & my talents. Those days lead me to finding myself here in this moment typing this letter. Those moments put me in a position to tell you to remember you are loved.

AJ Lawrence

Berkelee College of Music

If you’re able to take the negativity and find yourself a positive outlet like creative writing or music or sports: Do it. It’ll take at least some of the mental weight off your shoulders. For myself, I honestly grew a thicker skin mentally and found an outlet in writing creative and in music.

Shannon Li

University of Michigan

My advice to LGBTQ youth is to reach out for help. I know it is one of the most difficult act to do especially when all you feel is pressure and isolation. But, taking the risk and reaching out to anyone you feel safe and want to tell can go a long way. People who you love and trust will validate your feeling, ensure you that you will okay, there are a lot of people from you close family, friends, and even teachers, who care about you, and talk to you about how you feel during an emotionally difficult time. Keeping your feelings of sorrow, anger, and pain is not healthy and can cause more trouble. There is nothing more helpful than reaching out to those you trust and asking for help!

Parker Reyes

Texas Tech University

In my opinion growing up LGBTQ is such a beautiful and unique experience. One thing that brings me the most joy is seeing younger members of the LGBTQ community feeling empowered by the greater cultural changes around us, to express their queerness in a way that is authentic to them. A piece of advice I would give to queer youth in a bullying situation would be to give them grace, but not your power. It is important to also to use all the resources and social support structures that you have to combat and resolve the situation, as well as the negative effects that bullying has on one’s mental health. Lastly, when I say give them grace but not your power what I mean in that is, what people say to you can hurt but at the end of the day you have the power over yourself and how you see yourself, do not let anyone take that away from you or diminish your view on all the beautiful qualities that make you uniquely you.

Trina Sacurom

Texas A&M University

For LGBTQ youth currently experiencing bullying, please know that whatever rationale your bullies provide does not ever justify their behavior toward you. If you are in a situation where school administration is unreliable, let your voice be heard through social media. What can be accomplished through the online community is incredible; think of how many lives The Trevor Project has saved. Remember that you are not alone, your suffering will pass, and the world itself still has so much to offer.

Athena Schwartz

University of Utah

The advice I would give to LGBTQ youth who are experiencing bullying is that who you are is amazing just the way you are. I promise there is someone out there who sees how amazing you are. If you don't know who those people are, I'm one of them. It’s ok to also not know how you identify. It’s ok to just be different. It’s perfect to be exactly who you are. It's great to reach out for help. As you grow, you will find the groups that support you and who you are. I'm sorry it takes time and support can come in waves, but there is a whole community who has your back. We are out there and we aren't going anywhere even if we are all over the country or world. You are an incredible experience who is loved and powerful beyond your knowledge.

Daniel Segobiano

UCSC

You’re never alone. There is an army of supporters always at your back. The way people mistreat you is never your fault. It’s not about the clothes you wear, the way you talk, the way you walk, dance, laugh, love others, do your hair, or anything about you. Don’t think you need to change in order to fit the expectations others have of you. Who you are and what/where you wanna be is valid and more than enough. There is a reason you’re still here, and it isn’t to fit into someone else's picture frame.

Federico Yniguez

California State University

For all LGBTQ youth that are being bullied, remember that you are loved and cherished. In this community, you will find people who will accept you for who you are. Being unapologetically yourself is your greatest asset and sets you apart from everyone else. Embrace those differences because they will help you thrive.

About Spirit Day

Each year, millions go purple for GLAAD’s Spirit Day to support LGBTQ youth in a united stand against bullying. Spirit Day draws the participation of celebrities, schools, faith institutions, national landmarks, corporations, media outlets, sports leagues, and advocates around the world, all joining together to stand against bullying and support LGBTQ youth. Take the Spirit Day pledge to show LGBTQ youth you've got their backs at glaad.org/spiritday. Follow @GLAAD on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to follow all the #SpiritDay action.

Clare Kenny is the Director of Youth Engagement at GLAAD. She leads GLAAD's Campus Ambassador Program, Rising Stars Grants Program, and amp series. Clare is a graduate of Skidmore College.

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