Guest Author - J. Ruel
Are GLBT Students disadvantaged?
This is a question that needs to seriously be considered. Why? Because one has to wonder whether or not GLBT students are actually at a disadvantage when it comes to academics or not. I am not saying that they are not as intelligent as “normal” students are, what I am referring to are they disadvantaged in regards to social and extracurricular activities as well as academics.
There are an alarming number of GLBT college students who tend to fail out of school. Why? I do not know. However, one possibility is that they did not have the support system that they needed. What do I mean by not having the support system they need, simply that they might not have been given the same opportunities that regular “normal” students receive? These students not only have to find their place in society, but their place in academia as well. They need to be able to accept who they are as a glbt person and learn from it. They need the support system of people who understand their struggles and give them the advice and support they need. Someone who has been there and understands what it means to come out when you are finally out of the parents control and to accept yourself. The closet is a powerful place. Its hold is strong, so when a student breaks that hold and emerges from it dazed and confused, a strong support system needs to be in place. Heterosexual students do not have to live this double life and come to terms with who they are. They do not have to realize that they are normal and that homosexuality is just fine. Unfortunately, this coming out process and acceptance process could put GLBT students at a clear disadvantage.
The same could be said in the high school systems. The school board and PTA’s have more control of what is and is not taught that in the collegiate system. Liberal Arts education verses mandatory High School education is quite different and comes with both advantages and disadvantages. In the High School setting, a student might not learn that homosexuality is normal and acceptable. They may not learn the problems associated with the closet and coming out that one does in college. They may or may not learn the health risks associated with sexual intercourse, because abstinence is the only thing taught. We need to remember that children are having sex earlier these days, and if we don’t give them the education necessary to protect themselves, we are not only failing them, we are harming them.
So, are GLBT students disadvantaged? I think so, but you need to decide that for yourself. I do think that our schools need to implement support systems and have resources available for our GLBT students. Not only academic support, but also life and social support as well. A support group or study group oriented towards GLBT students are needed. Orientations targeted specifically to the GLBT student population would also be beneficial. Organizations at both the high school and collegiate level would provide not only a support system, but also a group of potential friends who understand where the student is coming from and therefore being the support system the student needs.
There are many solutions to the problems associated with being GLBT in the academic world that would also benefit the non-academic world. If we sit down and truly think of what is best, then we would be able to overcome any actual or perceived disadvantages that GLBT students are faced with.
Are you doing your part?