In the Closet

The hidden face of Homophobia and Transphobia at Blaine High School


BLAINE HIGH SCHOOL A majority of students at Blaine are oblivious to the struggles of students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender. As a result, Homophobia and Transphobia are problems that still persist in our school today.

During passing time, comments like “That’s so gay,” or “You’re so homo,” can be heard in our hallways on a daily basis. At Blaine, students use the word “gay” or “homo” to describe something lame or dumb or even use it as an insult.

A Freshman also noticed that “…some people carelessly throw around the words ‘f’** or ‘f*****’ when they speak.” They fail to understand that these comments, although not aimed directly at Blaine’s LGBT community, are still homophobic. “Those people cannot internalize the stigma they produce or the pain they cause,” said Sophomore Alexis Wagenfeld.

However, there are a few students who are brave enough to call these students out. One of them is a Junior, who says, “I tell them to stop, but then they try to tell me that they meant ‘gay’ as in ‘happy.’ They just want to ignore the hurt they’re causing.”

The reason for this may be that “Our school doesn’t actively discuss these problems,” says Freshman Abranette Barry. “Even when we are given the prompt to discuss bullying and harassment in PAWS, Students still don’t feel comfortable about having conversations about Homophobic comments or name calling,” Barry said.

At Blaine, there is also a misunderstanding and a disrespect for individuals who identify as a gender other than male or female or who identify as transgender. Barry explained how she had seen this: “One day I was in the cafeteria, sitting with a group of my friends for lunch. One of them was scrolling through his Instagram feed until he found something that made him laugh. I asked to see the post. It was a selfie of a boy who was transitioning into a girl, which was evident by the feminine clothes he chose to wear. My friend showed me the picture, and he looked confused that I didn’t laugh. He said ‘Look... Don’t you get it?’ as if the post was dumb or that it was something to mock or laugh about.”

Another Freshman had similar thoughts. “Students frequently make fun of these individuals, because they don’t understand what it feels like to identify as a third gender or experience gender dysphoria. They think it’s okay carelessly joke about it,” they said, “People must understand that everybody’s feelings are valid even if you haven’t experienced them before yourself.”

“Many people want to ignore the existence of transgender people, or they don’t feel comfortable around people who identify as LGBT,” said a Junior. This Homophobia and Transphobia can be found not only inside of the school but also outside, in Blaine’s sports teams.

A swimmer on the BHS girls’ swim and dive team has seen how Homophobia has become an issue that the team has had to deal with. Last year, she had an openly-gay teammate. “Most of the other girls were cool with it, but some refused to talk to her unless they had to. They ignored her and tried to stay away from her,” she said, “They were concerned about changing in the same locker room as her. I don’t exactly remember, but they might have even asked the coaches to make her change in a different locker room.”

“The girls thought that she might ‘check them out’ while they were changing,” the swimmer said, “I changed next to her, and I never noticed her doing that. Everybody minds their own business in the locker room. If I had felt uncomfortable, I would have told her and would’ve politely asked her to look in the other direction.”

At Blaine, transgender students face a similar struggle: they cannot use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender that they identify as. A student at Blaine who identifies as Transgender says, “Teachers call me by my preferred name, but I’m not allowed to use the men’s room. I would love to see that change. I have other friends who identify as trans and I know they would love it too.” Instead of using the bathroom of their birth sex, transgender students use the gender neutral bathroom in the Health Office.

At Blaine however, bullying is Transphobia’s most vicious form. “My friends have told me that they have been called ‘fags’ or that their feelings were fake, and that they don’t deserve to live because they’re a ‘freak of nature,” said a Freshman. These heartless comments even lead one of their friends to leave school for a whole trimester to deal with stress caused by this sort of bullying.

There are many students at BHS that are part of the LGBT community and many more who we don’t know about who are not yet out of the closet, and none of them should have to be victims of Homophobia or Transphobia. Nobody’s struggles should be ignored. We, Blaine High School, are better than this. It’s time for a change.

The best way to help eradicate Homophobia and Transphobia from Blaine would be to educate students and encourage conversation about those issues. “In PAWS, we could talk about these issues, and specifically anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, not just in general,” suggested Barry. PAWS and Health classes could also take the time to discuss the differences between sex, gender, sexuality, and gender expression.

Currently, our GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) has many projects that share the goal to educate students. Some of them include “Transgender Awareness Week,” and “Day of Silence.” Let us make sure that more people participate and actually care about the messages that GSA is trying to spread.

In History Classes, we could be taught about LGBT historical figures in a positive way, like how we are taught about African-American history and the civil rights movement. Along with a “Black History Month,” our school could also have an “LGBT History Month.”

To help make transgender students feel safe at Blaine, our school should have an open conversation about bathrooms and locker rooms. It will help us understand each other’s opinions and find a compromise. For example, having easily accessible gender-neutral bathrooms and locker rooms.

By knowing and understanding the struggles of our LGBT peers, it will be easier to empathize with them, to tolerate, and to accept them. This will clean our school of Homophobia and Transphobia.