To the Editor:
I remember my junior year at Ripon High School – circa 2016 – we had mock trials in our government class. Being a true crime fanatic of sorts, I had been looking forward to learning more about the judicial process.
As we were handed our roles in each case, I was assigned the mother of the missing daughter in a murder trial. Take note: this was around the time I had cut my hair from shoulder length to a pixie cut because I was just sick of having it in my face.
This was also around the same time I came out as gay.
I also changed my wardrobe from bootcut jeans and Abercrombie T-shirts to straight pants and more masculine attire all around, as that’s what I was more comfortable in.
Come time for the mock trial, we were told to dress as though we were in an actual courtroom. Thinking it was my time to shine, I put on my nicest khaki pants, button-up shirt and the best tie I owned for being a 16-year-old.
After the first day of the week-long activity, a friend of mine walked up to me and said our classmates were calling me a crossdresser behind my back because I was supposed to be in a mother role, right?
During my time working the front end at Crossroads Market in Green Lake, I had been called “bagger boy” and asked if I was one of “those people,” or transgender. And during a brief stint at Webster’s, a customer started laughing at me and said my name couldn’t possibly be Kaitlyn.
Though I never let those comments get to me personally, it may not be the same for other LGBTQ youths.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 1 in 6 Generation Z Americans identify within the LGBTQ community. And in 2019, a Trevor Project study found that 10.5% of 13 to 18-year-old Americans were also queer.
Being out at school versus to close family members depends on everyone’s individual situations. A Human Rights Campaign study reveals that about 60% of LGBTQ youth are out to their immediate family, and about 64% are out to classmates (versus 61% out to the entire school), and a staggering 91% are out to their close friends.
Though according to the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health (OCMH), in their June newsletter, they saw an increased risk for online and in-person bullying of LGBTQ children.
An LGBT Youth Report for the state of Wisconsin found:
- 46.7% experience dating or sexual violence
- 45.9% self-harming in the last year
- 43.8% experienced bullying of any kind
- 16.4% missing school in the last month due to fear for safety
So, as an LGBTQ adult, it was a rather positive thing for me to see nearly three dozen peers walk out of Berlin High School last week Thursday in support of a trans student being bullied. It was amazing to see how many stood up in solidarity for them regardless of what repercussions they may get.
Not only does this walkout warrant discussion for LGBTQ student rights, but it also warrants each and every one of us to sit down and think about what our words can do to somebody.
— Kaitlyn Scoville
Fond du Lac