A recent reminder of my own time in high school has got me reflecting on how difficult high school is for young GLBTIQ people.

Generally, I don’t tend to think about high school, but recently the memories were all bought back up.

I received an invitation to my ten year reunion.

Ah, I remember now – it was really bad.

Relentless bullying seems to colour nearly every memory I have of that time, and a lot of that bullying was about my sexuality.

High school is difficult because you have to try and figure out who you are AND fit in.

As a queer young person, trying to understand your sexuality is difficult enough, without your peers bullying you for it.

Bullying can ruin your life. I call it social abuse, because abuse as a term reflects the impact bullying can have on your life.

I guess the sad part is, ten years on, bullying is still a major problem for LGBTI young people.

I know from personal experience the pain and health issues it causes (both physical and mental), how difficult it can be to cope. Young people are still being bullied for trying to be themselves.

Out of all this pain, however, good things come. Amazing people who remember what it was like are setting up supports for LGBTI young people, including the wonderful initiative Camp Out.

Camp Out is a camp for LGBTI and curious and questioning teens and their allies.

Now in it’s second year, it offers young people a chance to express who they are in a safe environment and hear about the experiences of others who are going through similar things.

I remember the relief of finding my first group of queer friends, the relief in someone saying “that happened to me too”, the relief in not having to deny your self expression in order to avoid being teased, or worse.

A non-profit organisation, Camp Out needs donations to make sure the camp runs and remains accessible.

Every little bit helps, so if you would like to contribute to Camp Out, details are on their website: www.campout.org.au

GLCS is, as always, available to talk to when times are difficult, for people of all ages.

Our phone lines are open daily from 5.30pm – 9.30pm. (02) 8594 9596 (1800 184 527 for regional NSW & the ACT)

We also have a special Lesbian Line on Mondays from 5.30pm – 9.30pm. (02) 8594 9595 (1800 144 527 for regional callers)

By ASHA ZAPPA, Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service. INFO: www.glcsnsw.org.au

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