Children Facing Homophobia at School and Parent Reactions

While many minority groups are the target for prejudice… and discrimination… in our society, few persons face this hostility without the support and acceptance of their family as do many gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. ~Virginia Uribe and Karen Harbeck

This spring two LGBT youth stories about highschool prom have captured national media attention. In the first Constance McMillen’s highschool has canceled prom rather than allow her and her girlfriend to attend.  In the second Derrick Martin’s school has allowed him to bring his boyfriend to prom resulting in community unrest and some student protests.

In both cases the students at school along with the local community have openly come out against these high school seniors and openly come out as hostile to sexual minority people.  So what’s a parent to do?

On the one hand, when a child is facing hate filled hostility the parents could put the school on notice:

I wasn’t nervous until the decision was made to cancel. And then she called me and told me she left early because it was kind of a hostile environment. And then I made a call to the principal and just let him know that I was holding them completely responsible if anything were to happen to her.

– – Constance McMillen’s father Michael in an interview about students harassing his daughter. Michael speaks at minute 5 of the interview.
And the other hand… they could join the crowd and kick their child out:

As a result of the media attention, Martin’s parents have kicked him out of their home, and he’s staying with a friend in Cochran.
Martin’s father is a math teacher at Bleckley County High and is the school’s Teacher of the Year.

“I think his dad is embarrassed,” said sophomore Brittany Bohannon. As school faculty were introduced at an unrelated motivational speaking event Thursday, Martin’s father attended but stood in the background, she said. “People thought it was OK I was going to prom but not OK with me telling anybody,” Derrick Martin said Thursday. “All this media attention has gotten people scared Cochran is an openly gay community.”

– – Derrick Martin’s parents kick him out of the house following the negative media attention resulting from his public announcement that he will be taking his boyfriend to the senior prom.

Studies consistently find that between 20% and 40% of homeless youth identify as sexual orientation or gender identity minority youth.

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  1. Pingback: Dez and Sarah will walk together in the Royal Court | Schooling Inequality