Being a student entails a lot of things. Students fill out their FAFSA, apply for HOPE, register for classes, stress over essays, projects, midterms and finals, all in hopes of doing well.
This of course is before taking on any extracurricular activities, whether that may be writing for the school paper, being a member or an officer of a club or any other assortment of different activities.
Is there room for any more stress on top of all of this?
Of course, sometimes it doesn’t matter if there’s room, the stress will come, whether it is wanted or not.
There are many students who know this feeling, this stress and it is no different being a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT*) student.
Many LGBT* students find themselves having to hide who they are, to wear a mask, especially in new situations. College may not be a professional environment, but it is a place where a student will forge relationships and make influences that could affect the recommendations, the jobs, the careers and the lives they have.
So then an LGBT* student faces a new decision in every new situation. When meeting a new club advisor or president, when meeting with the editors or advisors for the paper, when meeting with Student Life Coordinators or the Student Government Association, does a student come out, or do they remain “in the closet”?
Often one may ask, “What does it matter?”
It matters because if a student, if a person, has to carry a fear, a burden, each and every day, regardless of what that fear or that burden is, then it hinders who they are, and who they can be as a person and as a student.
It is absolutely important that every person be given an equal opportunity, not only to be successful, but to be who they are and be allowed to work towards not only what they can be, but what they want to be.
I am a Transgender student at Georgia Highlands College. One could never tell this just by looking at me, because I have grown up in fear of accepting myself.
It is because of this fear, because of the people who choose not to believe me, because of the stress and the pressure of trying to be successful in a cisgender and heterosexual society, that I sign the name given to me at birth on all of my school assignments. When and if a professor asks me what my preferred name is I say that I have no preference, for I am too afraid of admitting my preference.
Cisgender, a word used above, is a term used to describe people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. Most people are cisgender, as most people are heterosexual.
What is needed now is a society that accepts everyone regardless of their gender identity or their sexual identity or orientation. We need a school that encourages safety and openness for everyone.