‘I am constantly surrounded by homophobia within my family and at school.’

A young woman with a black afro, wearing a green jacket, with braces smiling for a portrait.
(Photograph by Trevor Jackson / For The Times, Los Angeles Times photo illustration)

Raeven Sheppard, Dorsey High School


A study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network found that 85% of LGBTQ students have experienced verbal harassment, 66% have been discriminated against, and 98% heard “gay” being used as a derogatory term. As a proud Black queer student, I know these issues impact my academics and mental health.

I am constantly surrounded by homophobia within my family and at school. I struggled to feel like I belonged. Many LGBTQ students miss school, avoid bathrooms and locker rooms, or have lower grade point averages.

LGBTQ issues on campus are overlooked, and I strongly believe schools should bring more awareness to this. Most if not all schools should have Gay-Straight Alliance, Gender-Sexuality Alliance or Queer–Straight Alliance clubs that create a safe space for LGBTQ kids.


Schools should treat our issues the same way they enforce no-gum or dress code policies. There should be zero tolerance for homophobia. Make traditional cis-straight events like prom or homecoming more inclusive, and create areas for trans and nonbinary students in locker rooms and bathrooms.

I believe the main root of homophobia is due to ignorance and stereotyping, and if we educate students and staff, we can create a safer environment for all students.