The CHS Environment and How It Effects LGBTQ+ Students

Brooke Lopez-Mahaley

LGBTQ+ students should be able to express themselves and their sexualities while in a school setting.

It’s very important for any person to express themselves. School is an influential environment for students and expressing themselves is very beneficial to their mental health, self-awareness, and confidence.

Being able to openly say “I’m gay” is not a luxury that all LGBTQ+ teenagers have. Whether or not one’s home life is accepting or unaccepting with their sexuality, a student’s school life is completely different. Students are surrounded by new peers, expectations, and new challenges.

“The school environment helped me to understand my preferences; however, the environment was very unpleasant and scary,” said Kota Amos, tenth grader.

“I think people should be able to express themselves, because I feel like since high school is where they’re starting to grow as a person, it’s an important part of their life,” said Cali Perry,  freshman.

Many people talk about how they feel Chatham High School isn’t an entirely safe place to truly express themselves.

“I personally feel safe, but I think it could be a struggle for other people because of the bullying,” said Brennen Oakes, freshman.

“It just doesn’t feel like a safe environment because how I’ve known teachers in the past to be very homophobic,” said Perry. “A lot of the teachers and students don’t support it enough for me to feel safe.”

“I believe people should have the ability to express themselves freely, including queer people,” said Amos. “But I’ve been called slurs before, and people have misgendered me on purpose many times. Also, many teachers and staff members have made me feel more alienated for my identity.

Despite negative experiences, other students have experienced positive representation.

“I feel happy when I see gay couples walking around; it makes me feel more welcome because I know there are other people like me,” said Oakes.

“It makes me feel happy, because I’d rather people express themselves rather than hide it from the world,” said Perry.

Even though we have representation among a small portion of students, it might be important for the school to enforce further representation.

“I’ve never really seen much representation, I always see he/she pronouns, but no they/them pronouns,” said Amos.

“I’ve never personally seen anything- beside the survey we took the other week,” said Perry. “But I think it’s important because people will see that they are represented.”

“I feel like representation of any kind is important because it lets students know they are okay to be who they are,” said Amos.

“People need to be more respectful and get more used to it; it’s unfortunately very conservative here,” said Oakes.

CHS is full of good teachers who really care, many of our students have experienced them first hand.

It’s important for students to have a healthy environment in which they can thrive and grow in, so our school definitely has some work to do before it is fully LGBTQ+ inclusive and welcoming.