The Beacon Bit: A Youth Perspective - End of school year Survival Guide


We’re approaching the end of the school year, which is a stressful time for any student. But this stress can be much worse for LGBTQ students, particularly those in high school. May brings the season of graduations and proms and finalizing college plans, all of which can be incredibly difficult when you do not identify as heterosexual or cisgender.
    So, consider this a survival guide of sorts: How to get through the rest of the school year, graduation, prom, and whatever else you have to deal with in the next month.
    Prom poses difficulty for a lot of LGBTQ high school students. Will your school let you wear the clothing you feel comfortable in? Turns out, they’re legally obligated to. The Department of Education has decided that Title IX, a federal law protecting students from discrimination on the basis of sex, can and does extend to cover reports of discrimination based on gender identity.
    So wear what you want, and if they tell you not to, tell them that you can file a report based on Title IX guidelines. As for the issue of prom dates, schools can make their own policies, but you have every right to challenge those policies. Many students have been successful after bringing up an unfair policy regarding same-sex dates to dances with the school board.
    Also, some communities hold proms outside of school settings specifically to accommodate  LGBTQ students who are not able to attend prom as they would like; Topeka Pride will be hosting one on June 17 of this year.
    As for graduation, similar rules to those of prom wear can be applied with regards to clothing. For trans students who do not use their legal name, try talking to your school administration about what name is read during the ceremony and see what they are willing to do. Getting community supports such as a school GSA or family supports like a parent or guardian can also be helpful in this situation.
    Choosing a college can be a very stressful experience. Especially if you’ve already been accepted to multiple schools, narrowing down options is difficult. There are many guides out there that list LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities; this can be a great starting point. Campus visits are crucial and should be a large factor in your decision.
    Now is the perfect time to start scheduling visits. Contact an admissions representative to arrange a day and time, and also try to get in contact with LGBTQ students currently attending the school. You may want to ask about housing policies for trans students, with focus on things like bathroom and roommate policies. An in-person visit will help you see what attending a certain college will actually be like and how the administration treats its students.
    In the midst of all this change, be sure to take care of yourself. Do things you enjoy, with people you enjoy, at places you enjoy. Buy yourself something nice or go to a restaurant that you like. Treating yourself is a great way to keep your spirits high and combat stress.
    So, hopefully now you have a better outlook on your end-of-school worries. We wish you all the best. The future is extremely bright, so don’t stop reaching for it, and you can accomplish great things. l



28-Feb-18 14

Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.