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Listening to Gay and Lesbian Teenagers.

Kissen, Rita M.

Abstract: A questionnaire was sent to gay and lesbian youth support groups around the country asking what it felt like to be gay and lesbian in high school, and how young people thought teachers and counselors could make their classrooms more comfortable for gay and lesbian students. The 44 responses came from young people who had attended public or parochial high schools in 17 states and 1 foreign country. The great majority (37) were male. Most of the respondents were in their early 20s and indicated that they were between 12 and 18 years old when they first became aware of being gay. Most of the few positive mentions of homosexuality in high school took place in the English classroom, and all five respondents who were "out" to teachers confided in English teachers. More than half the respondents did not come out to their friends. Only 6 said they were victims of violence, although 11 endured verbal abuse by students who perceived them as gay. None of the respondents indicated good memories of high school. Some respondents spoke directly about breaking the silence surrounding homophobia and urged teachers to find out about gay and lesbian resources and make them available to students. Respondents also urged gay and lesbian teachers to come out to their students. Teachers have the opportunity to affirm diversity in the classroom, curricula, and in interactions with students and other faculty members. (RS)

Title: Listening to Gay and Lesbian Teenagers.
Author: Kissen, Rita M.
Note: 13p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (81st, Seattle, WA, November 22-27, 1991).
Publication Year: Nov 1991
Document Type: Conference Paper (150); Research Report (143)
Target Audience: Students
ERIC Identifier: ED344220
Clearinghouse Identifier: CS213270

Descriptors: High Schools; * High School Students; * Homosexuality; National Surveys; Questionnaires; School Surveys; * Student Attitudes; * Teacher Student Relationship

Identifiers: *English TEachers; *Homophobia

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