Throughout this blog series, you have learned that there are many reasons why youth run away, and issues related to sexuality and sexual orientation are certainly among them.
How Youth Can Understand Sexuality and Gender Orientation
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth experience bullying or abuse within their homes or communities that make them want to run away or they may be kicked out because of who they are. The National Runaway Safeline’s “Let’s Talk” curriculum Module 12 includes educational discussions and activities about the roles that sexuality and sexual or gender orientation play in the lives of runaway youth and youth in general.
Adolescence can be a difficult time for any youth, but for someone who may be struggling with their sexuality or questioning if they may identify as LGBTQ, it can bring about additional challenges. Even if a youth who identifies as LGBTQ has the support of those immediately surrounding them, they may face struggles of being accepted by others in society at some point in their lives.
To be a good ally, it’s important first to understand what sexuality is and to use appropriate terminology. What’s the difference between sexuality and gender identity? Is there a difference between heterosexism and homophobia?
These are the questions answered in “Let’s Talk”‘s activity and the terms that are discussed. This is a great way for groups to learn from one another and establish a common language. This activity provides users with the tools to talk about sexuality and sexual orientation in a respectful way.
As we stated before, some youth may choose to run away because they don’t feel supported in issues related to sexuality. These issues can include:
- Not being allowed to date at all or to date whom they want
- Not feeling comfortable talking about sexual problems
- Having a reputation regarding sex
- Being ridiculed for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)
In “Let’s Talk”‘s activity, “I’m here to listen,” we explore things youth may want to think about before opening up to someone about these issues, as well as how they can be approachable for someone who may be struggling and need support are explored. Before talking with someone about a difficult or sensitive issue it’s important to think about if they will keep your conversation private, “will they be empathetic and nonjudgmental?” By practicing scenarios, “Let’s Talk” can help youth understand how to find reliable people to listen and how they can, in turn, be a reliable and approachable listener to others who may need to talk.
People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) are often faced with prejudice and discrimination.
Homophobia and heterosexism can come from peers, such as classmates, or even family members. These forms of discrimination can be either very overt or more subtle, but often times will be ignored by others.
An “ally” refers to someone who is not of a particular community or background yet advocates for members of that particular community or background. It’s not always easy standing up to a bully, even if youth know it’s the right thing to do. Some fear that speaking up on behalf of LGBTQ youth may put them in a position to be victimized as well.
“Let’s Talk”‘s activity is focused on giving youth some tips that can help them be an LGBTQ ally.
Some tips include:
- Keep an open mind
- Calling someone out who is being homophobic
- Involve yourself in the community
- Letting others know you support people who identify as LGBTQ
This module is a great resource to use with parents and other adults, as well as youth. It’s important for everyone to have a better understanding of challenges those in the LGBTQ community face. We can all be allies and support those that may face discrimination.
Find NRS’ entire curriculum and download it today!