Love changes lockers

Many people may not know what it is like to be LGBTQ+. Some may not know how to handle situations where both sides feel uncomfortable. Some may not even know how these individuals feel about the environment they are in five days a week.

Sycamore prides itself on being a diverse, inclusive, and supportive community. With that comes the responsibility of accommodating the LGBTQ+ individuals here. These responsibilities come with the expectation of protecting equality as well as providing the other basic necessities that all other students and staff have access to.

One example of situations these individuals may face is high tension and uncomfortable situations while in the locker rooms. A basic necessity that many of us take for granted is using the bathroom for the gender you identify with freely and without question.

“In the locker rooms, the other girls always seemed really uncomfortable when we were there.”*

When trying to change, some girls may face harsh judgment from peers.

“They would talk to each other about how LGBTQ+ girls shouldn’t be allowed in the same area as them because they always thought we were staring at them or something. I wanted to tell them that they were flattering themselves.”

The foundation for the tension and ridicule is that some encounter other students may feel uncomfortable when around individuals who are attracted to their same gender.

“I don’t think they understand that just because we like girls doesn’t mean that we’re attracted to every girl we see. We’re not constantly staring at every girl we see. We have crushes and relationships like everyone else. Trust me, we are just as uncomfortable changing in front of you as you are changing in front of us.”

Some students do not feel comfortable changing in either locker room in fear of harassment and judgment. In response, the gym teachers negotiated a plan to allow them to use the upstairs locker rooms to change for class.

“The locker room is always an uncomfortable subject, but when you constantly have people asking why you are changing upstairs, it gets awkward.”

Teachers also play a role in the quality of these individuals’ school experience. It is expected of them to support, protect, and control the environment in their classes. The goal is to prevent the class from developing an antagonistic climate.

“Some teachers are not made aware of the situation and will often overlook any kind of harassment. A lot of the time, teachers will not use the correct pronouns simply because they are uncomfortable. It is necessary for the teachers to be filled in on what the students need.

I have had many teachers use my preferred name, but many others don’t and end up sharing my birth name with people who I would prefer didn’t know. In some cases, other students will deliberately use the name I prefer less, simply to taunt me.”

As a country, as a school, and as a community, we should be trying our hardest to provide our friends, neighbors, and peers with a safe and workable environment where nobody feels targeted or stripped of basic needs.

*Due to the sensitive nature of this subject matter, the individuals quoted will remain anonymous.