Many youths who identify with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community are often harassed or assaulted at a rate that is twice higher than their peers.
For that reason alone, teachers should be an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, said Pride Marianas Youth co-founder Dr. Jennifer Maratita.
Speaking to primary and secondary teachers last Tuesday at Marianas High School during the welcoming ceremony for Public School System teachers, Maratita said that teachers, as trailblazers of the education system, have the ability to change all the challenges that the LGBTQ+ youth face.
She said many LGBTQ+ youth do not feel safe, have been harassed, or even assaulted. “Many of our LGBTQ+ youth report that [these attacks] are part of their daily lives” Maratita said, and many of these youth deal with exclusion, sadness, and hopelessness.
Maratita urged teachers to provide “a voice to those who haven’t found their yet, for those who have the courage to be themselves every day in a world that tells you to be someone else.”
By becoming an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, teachers will be showing the youth that their teachers are aware of the issues that they face and will accept the role of providing a voice for these children, Maratita added..
“Some of these kids are feeling that resources don’t exist, or parents are unsure of how to respond or seek support,” she said.
There are support systems like the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program and the Community Guidance Center, but this issue is only the beginning of some challenges face by the LGBTQ+ youth community, she said.
She indicated that pride in the LGBTQ+ community includes the promotion of self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility. “Pride in the LGBTQ+ community also means to celebrate our differences” she said.
For those who need support, contact the following: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255; The Trevor Project, 24-hour hotline at 1-866-488-7386 or visit TheTrevorProject.org/help; and Crisis Text Line, text HOME to 741-741.