Photo by Wunmi Onibudo
The first day I showed up in my school counselor’s office, I was depressed and alone. Sabrina, my counselor, explained to me that her job is to listen and offer a helping hand to students who need support. Like a good ally, she listened to me when I spoke about my problems.
When I told her that I’m gay, she explained right off the bat that being gay is a reason to celebrate. She said that being different and unique is a gift rather than something to be afraid of. After that, I visited her office every week, where I gained confidence as I talked with her about everyday life.
After a year of support and guidance from Sabrina, I was able to go in front of my school with my GSA and speak my truth. If it weren’t for Sabrina, I would have never been able to do that.
Sabrina really cared; the time she took to research ways to support me made a monumental difference in my life. I truly will never forget her. Educators like her are the reason why I love going to school.
Being an educator means not only teaching students material but also making sure we are safe and comfortable in our surroundings. When educators make supporting students their main priority, the outcome is beautiful. The more supportive educators that LGBTQ students can identify, the safer they feel at school, and the less likely they are to miss school due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, according to GLSEN’s most recent National School Climate Survey.
Every student should have a place to go at school where they can receive guidance and support. Unfortunately, while the majority of LGBTQ students can identify at least one supportive educator, less than two thirds can identify six or more, and fewer than two in five can identify eleven or more, even though supportive educators have such a positive impact on student experiences.
I am truly lucky to have a school counselor like Sabrina. But every LGBTQ student deserves someone like her at school. That’s why I signed GLSEN’s Letter to the Next President, which demands that every Presidential candidate publicly declare that they are supporting LGBTQ youth – and this means making sure every educator has the proper resources, training and school climate to offer support to students like me.
Will you add your name to the letter?
Danny Charney is a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council.