Friday, August 29, 2008

First Day Of School Jitters, Opportunities, and Queers!

Ahhh, the end of summer, fall's in the air, and it's the start of the new school year!

So for everyone who's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and/or Straight and really great, here's some thoughts for that first day of school:

First Day Jitters

EVERYONE is nervous. No, I mean that. EVERYONE. Not everyone shows it. Or admits it. But everyone wants it to go well. To have friends. To have fun. To not be made fun of.

Trust me. From the Top Jock to the Drama Club stagehands, from the Math wiz to the kids with trouble reading, from the principals to the teachers to the bus drivers, EVERYONE is a little bit nervous about the first day of school.

so look - if you're a little nervous - you already fit in!

Every Day Opportunities

Don't let all the adult-focus on grades fool you. School is really only about 1/3 about academics. And yeah, they're important, and do your best, but recognize that in addition to what your learn in class, there are two other huge parts of school that make up the whole pie.

Sure, it's nice to know algebra for the tests, but what's really important is to learn HOW to learn, so when you forget that Pythagorian theorum, you can go back and re-learn it when you need to. And you'll never remember all those dates - but you need to know how to find them when you need them.

Another 1/3 of the equation of school is figuring out how to navigate relationships, interact with other kids and with teachers. Learning how to work and play with other kids your age. Choosing who you'll have lunch with. Play with at recess. Hang with in homeroom. Do that project with. This is HUGE stuff - but not maybe in the way you think.

Just like with academics, once you're out of school and off in college or in the "real world," it ends up being completely UNIMPORTANT who your friends were in high school or junior high school. What's important is that you were learning skills and practicing HOW to make friends. How to recognize people who don't have your best interests at heart. How to interact with peers and adults... Now, that isn't to say that you might not still have some great friends from elementary school at your 80th birthday party, it's just to remind you that if you don't, it's okay... You'll make LOTS of friends throughout your life. Some will stay with you. Others won't. More will always come along.

Figuring Out You

The final 1/3 of school is maybe the most important. You can think of yourself as an adventurer, on an amazing journey throughout school and life, to discover the secrets of...


School is an amazing buffet of opportunities, chances to explore so many different things. For each one, you can ask yourself - does this resonate? Do I want to learn more about this? Practice and get better at this?
What fascinates you?
What do you love to lose yourself in?
It it a particular sport?

Your time in school is a gift to get to learn all these things for the future. And most of all, to help you figure out yourself! Grab this time to dig deep and explore the world - and by exploring the world, you'll be discovering yourself.

Queers at School

Okay, part of your identity, part of figuring out yourself, may lead you to recognize that you are part of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning community, or you might just realize that you're one of our crucial Straight Allies.

However you identify, it's important for you to know that you are not alone:

According to a 2004 national poll commissioned by GLSEN, approximately 5% of America's high school students identify as lesbian or gay or roughly 3/4 million students nationwide. This percentage would translate to, on average, every classroom in America having at least one student who identifies as lesbian or gay and a majority of students in the classroom knowing at least one gay or lesbian person, whether it be a teacher, a classmate or a family member.

There are organizations to support you,

hotlines to speak with someone who cares,

mentoring programs to give you a leg up,

scholarship programs to help you pay for college, and

peers - potential friends - who share your journey.

Here's a recap of the "coming out" section in the toolbar on the right side of this blogsite:

Coming Out? Check out:

The first listing is a link to one of my musings on National Coming Out Day - Every Day!

The second listing is the Human Rights Campaign's Resource Guide for Coming Out. Click it. Download it. Read it. An excellent overview.

The third, "Brent Says It So Well" will take you to fellow GLBTQ YA author Brent Hartinger's website page where he shares so beautifully about his process of coming out.

The Fourth is a link to the Gay Straight Alliance Network. While this is a California-specific organization, the information they provide is useful for anyone trying to set up a GSA, anywhere.

The Fifth gets you to the homepage of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, a non-profit focused on issues of schools being safe places for Teens and Kids in our GLBTQ community.

The next, "GLBTQ Groups/Community Near You," is a link to Queer America, a search engine where you enter in your area code and zip code and you get a list of lots of GLBTQ resources. Very cool information to have.

Next is The Trevor Project. It's a link to their web site, but I've also listed their phone number. (866) 4-U-TREVOR. When you need to talk to someone, it's a national crisis and suicide prevention counseling phone line for GLBTQ Kids, Teens and Young Adults.

The second to last link is to the organization PFLAG. This is an amazing group - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Good stuff for your whole family.

And last, for now, is a link to the Point Foundation, the National LGBT Scholarship Fund. There are still so many stories of kids living in fear that if they come out, they'll be abandoned by their families and that their dreams of going to college or grad school won't come true. Well, the Point Foundation's mission is to give SCHOLARSHIPS to GLBTQ students so they CAN afford to be OUT, be true to themselves, and to get a great education after High School!
They even have a mentoring program!! Okay, I LOVE that these scholarships exist!


There are states and school districts where GLBTQ students are protected from harassment by the law. There are others where we're not protected.

The most important thing is to be Safe and be Smart.

And while you're doing that, enjoy figuring out who you are. Because each of us is a unique and perfect creation - flaws and all.

That's why I end every Lee's Musing with the word "Namaste," because it means "the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you."

So, go have a GREAT first day of school, and an FANTASTIC year of school.

Learn stuff. And learn how to learn.

Make some friends. And learn how to be a friend.

Discover Yourself. And know that We're Here. We're Queer. And We're in School!



Posting will start again on the first day of school for so many of you in the USA - Tuesday Sept 2, 2008! If you're here in the USA, enjoy the long weekend. If you're elsewhere on this big blue planet of ours, have a great weekend, too!

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