LGBTQIA+ community speaks out on acceptance

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Art by KJ Beckley

Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community try and hide their sexuality. Jayy Whited said, “I kind of hide it from the teachers because they tend to treat you differently once you do make it clear.”

K.J. Beckley, Reporter

Since quarantine, people of all ages have come out and said they identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Sophomore Kale Conti said the reason they came out as bisexual was “because my family forced me to come out.” 

Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is more common than it once was, but that does not mean everyone is as accepting of it. 

Conti said in fifth or sixth grade “when I began to ask my mom if she ever thought girls were pretty like I did, she gave me a whole talk on how that’s a sin.” 

Junior Kylie Beckley, on the other hand, said she was just unaware that others felt any differently than her.

“For a really long time I thought it was ‘normal,’ for everyone to like everyone,” she said. “It wasn’t until gay marriage became a big topic of debate that I realized not all girls liked girls, and that there was a label for those who do, and those who like boys, too.” 

Freshman Jewels Cornett said they had a different experience than Beckley. “Ever since I was young, I knew I was different in some way. I wasn’t raised anywhere where being gay wasn’t considered a bad thing, so I wasn’t particularly ashamed, I was just confused and scared from people’s stories of bad coming-out experiences.” 

Beckley did try to conceal her preferences for a while. “I came out as bi in the seventh grade simply because I didn’t want to hide it,” she said.

There will always be some people — whether it be at school, home, or even work — that will not understand people’s lifestyle choices or sexuality.

“People will treat you differently depending on how you identify, or they will openly make you uncomfortable to piss you off, ” said freshman Jayy Whited. 

While some feel Streetsboro High School has been supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, others have experienced homophobia.

“I get negative slurs thrown at me a lot, which I personally find funny and then use them against myself,” Whited said. 

He said fellow students are not the only ones who have been judgemental.

“I kind of hide it from the teachers because they tend to treat you differently once you do make it clear,” Whited said.  

Conti agreed. “There is a small group of teachers here who, on a daily basis, will not respect my preferred name and will make comments about me having a husband in the future, when I have made it clear multiple times I am not into men,” he said.

Just because a place is mostly supportive does not mean that everyone in the LGBTQ+ community will feel comfortable there. 

“Often times I get over-sexualized by guys when they find out, and when I was dating a girl, a lot of people made many inappropriate comments,” Beckley said. “I’ve also been called a couple slurs by quite a few people.” 

Conti added, “Sometimes I will receive the standard microagression that adhere to the basic lesbian stereotypes which are harmful to the LGBTQ community.” 

It is difficult for people in the community to explain microaggression they experience because they are so used to it. 

Certain stereotypes create harmful narratives for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Juniors River Lowery and Elise Gestring offer students and staff Post-its to write on and show their support for inclusivity at SHS during lunch periods in May. (Photo by Amanda Ruffo)

One piece of advice Beckley has for others in the community is, “Don’t let people make you their token gay friend.”

Beckley is referring to people who are only friends with those in the LGBTQ+ community to use them as a “prize” or to show that they are “good allies’ ‘ for just being friends and talking to them. 

Cornett said those who are out at SHS just need to be cautious. “They are nice for the most part but I feel like their opinions would take a turn for the worst. Sometimes you can kind of just gauge who you are safe to be out to and who you are not, so I try to use that to determine who to befriend and not.”

Beckley could relate. “If I’m around certain people or family members who give me bad vibes, I’ll kind of skirt around the topic.” 

On April 23, SHS participated in the National Day of Silence. This is an event that brings attention to the harassment, bullying, and name-calling that people in the LGBTQ+ community deal with within the school. 

Participation in this event helped show that the school supported the community.

Cornett said she has experienced some support here, specifically from Spanish teacher Alexandra Klobusnik. She said they briefly talked to find gender neutral pronouns for them because there really are not any in Spanish. 

“We landed on ‘elle’ and she even started incorporating it into her lessons,” Cornett said. “It made me really emotional to be accepted warmly. Compared to every other school I’ve been to, Streetsboro has been the most welcoming and I feel genuinely safe here.”

Cornett said when they first moved to Streetsboro, they felt supported by different staff members. 

Conti agreed. “Most other students in Streetsboro can respect my pronouns, preferred name and sexuality effortlessly.” 

Beckley has had a similar experience overall. “The majority of the people in my life have been pretty accepting and respectful of it and myself, and I am beyond grateful for that,” she said.