Priscilla Hopper, cub writer
Cathy Lee, cub writer
Debby Rasson, cub writer
AJ Wolken, cub writer
Issues related to LGBTQ, such as same-sex marriage and transgender bathrooms, have been the subject of recent nationwide debate.
Principal David Jackson observes that there is a diversity of perspectives among students with regard to the LGBTQ population.
“We have people that don’t understand, we have people who are scared, we have people who are very accepting, and we have people who don’t realize who is LGBT or who is Hispanic, or African American, or Asian or Caucasian,” Jackson said.
Sophomore Javier Valle feels “indifferent” toward the existence of LGBTQ individuals in society.
“If I had the chance to choose between there being [gay people] in the world or not, I’d say no…But I don’t really care,” Valle said.
Although he thinks that “being straight is normal” and wishes that “everyone in the world were straight,” Valle does not agree with a separation between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ students.
“I’m not saying that there should be schools made for gay people and other schools made for straight people,” he said. “They can be together.”
Additionally, his sister, sophomore Leticia Valle, noted that the existence of a LGBTQ community in schools is beneficial.
“I think it is appropriate to have an LGBTQ community at Beverly,” Leticia said. “I’ve begun to accept the fact that there are lots of people at Beverly, not only here but in the U.S., that are one of these things, so it is a good thing so that they can adapt and feel more welcome into society.”
Furthermore, she has adopted an attitude of recognition toward LGBTQ couples.
“I definitely am surprised when I see a gay couple or a lesbian couple, but I’ve learned to accept it,” Leticia said.
Despite what each individual may think of the LGBTQ community, Jackson emphasizes that all people must behave respectfully toward each other.
“Everybody needs to be treated like a human being and I don’t like to put labels on anybody…all fifteen hundred of you are my kids, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or beliefs,” Jackson said.
Influence of religion
Leticia believes that practicing Christianity has an impact on the views of Christians on the LGBTQ community.
“If you are religious, you’re definitely going to oppose LGBTQ, especially because your beliefs goes against that…Although the Pope has accepted lesbians and gays into the church, many Christians still think that it’s against their faith,” she said.
For Leticia, growing up in a Spanish and Catholic family has shaped her perspective on LGBTQ in the U.S.
“I’ve grown up knowing that it is not necessarily bad, but [my family] sees it as something foreign and something strange, or we don’t really accept it or take into account that it’s something so normal and something so common here,” Leticia said.
On the other hand, Javier believes that religion has not had a major effect on his opinions regarding LGBTQ individuals.
“This sexual spectrum is a very bizarre, uncanny one because it’s unnatural,” he said. “The way I see it, it’s not from a religious view. It’s from an influential view. No one’s really born gay. They’re influenced when they’re younger, or they see stuff that changes the way they are.”
Administration views of treatment of LGBTQ students
According to Intervention Counselor Ali Norman-Franks, LGBTQ students worldwide are bullied more often than others.
“[LGBTQ students] are typically more targeted, typically harassed more. They are more at risk of depression,” Norman-Franks said.
A case recently reported to the administration revealed that a LGBTQ student had been bullied through name calling. Jackson stated that the administration took appropriate measures to ensure that “it won’t happen again.”
“We dealt with the student that felt that they were bullied…and we dealt with the student who did the bullying. We got witness statements and, as a school, my vision is that we’re not here to punish, we’re here to change behavior.”
However, both Norman-Franks and Jackson noted that students are generally welcoming toward their LGBTQ peers.
“We have an interesting cross section of everything here at this school, and for the most part, everybody gets along pretty well from what we’ve seen,” Jackson said.
Faculty’s efforts to promote acceptance of LGBTQ individuals
From what Jackson has observed, the “very caring, warm and compassionate” faculty is “very open to every kind of sexual orientation.”
“I think [teachers] are pretty accepting in their classrooms, and current events are discussed in econ and government, actually in all of our social studies classes, and even in our English classes,” he said.
In addition,the staff has the responsibility of informing students about the various organizations providing aid to LGBTQ individuals, such as the Trevor Project, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, the Los Angeles LGBT Center and NormanAid.
“I think faculties in general could just allow students to know that there are resources, talk with them about what their options are and where to go to get help,” Norman-Franks said. “[Counseling’s] providing them with a safe place where the more that they can feel comfortable sharing with a therapist, the more practice they can get, so then they are comfortable sharing with their friends or with their family.”
Jackson also advised LGBTQ youth to seek assistance from staff members, all of whom are willing to provide support.
“My advice [for LGBTQ students] is to be proud of who they are and to be themselves. If they encounter situations that they need help with, they can go to a faculty member, the eight counselors or the four administrators. We’re here to help. We’re here to educate.”