LGBT Network Launches “Pathways to Pride” Anti-Bullying Program

Kate Harveston
Kate Harveston 4 Min Read

Members of the LGBT community have had a hard row in the U.S. over the years. The recent national rise in hate crimes has targeted people of all ages. Youth yet to graduate from high school bear the brunt of much of this bullying from their peers.

The launch of the LGBT Network’s “Passage to Pride” anti-bullying initiative happened at the perfect time, as many teens need as much support as ever. The after-school program is designed to teach valuable life skills and offer a safe space for young community members to interact free from scorn. Many hope that with time and education, those approaching high school graduation will have the knowledge and the self-esteem necessary to enter the next stage of their lives prepared.

The Problem of Increased Bullying

Members of the LGBT community have the right to be concerned. Hate crimes against LGBT individuals occur at twice the rate of those targeted due to race, and those experiencing harassment and violence aren’t all over the age of 18.

Some states have passed laws prohibiting bullying. However, eight states have laws on the books prohibiting school officials from discussing LGBT issues in school. This can leave bullied students in the community from even confiding in a trusted adult once the bell rings. Since many LGBT youths resist coming out to their families due to fear of the consequences, the extreme isolation and loneliness from having no adults to support them often hurt as much as the bullying itself.

Fully 85 percent of LGBT youth report experiencing harassment at school. Over one0quarter of all LGBT youths report suffering physical attacks based upon their sexual or gender identity. Feeling bullied at school adversely impacts academic progress, as few can focus on algebra while fearing for their safety.

The “Pathway to Pride” Mission

The “Pathway to Pride” program aims to provide after-school tutoring to help LGBT youth catch up if they’ve fallen behind. The program will also offer life skills and money management training for those about to enter the adult world. Additionally, the program will assist with helping LGBT youth find summer job placements to start them on the pathway to their financial goals.

Most importantly, however, the program offers LGBT teens a safe space where they can share their experiences with other community members without fear of harassment or reprisal. They can meet friends as well as positive adult role models they can emulate. Given the increased suicide risks among LGBT youth, providing a nonjudgmental listening ear can make the difference between life and death.

Although it currently exists only in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York, hopefully, other schools will adopt similar programs soon. Since “Pathway to Pride” arose as a result of a grant, organizations with grant writers on staff wanting to help can sponsor similar initiatives.

Creating a Kinder World for LGBT Youth

Given the increased minority stress experienced by LGBT youth and the unique challenges they face in everyday life, the more support adults can provide them, the sooner they will feel safer. Youth perform better in school and enjoy greater success in life when they feel cared for and heard. By providing the up-and-coming generation with safe spaces to learn and have emotional support, we as a society can begin to erase the hate.

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I’m Kate! I’m originally from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. After obtaining my degree in Professional Writing, it only seemed natural to get out there and start blogging! I am currently pursuing a career as a journalist and freelance writer. My life goal is to be one of the best female writers online while having lots of fun along the way. When I’m not writing, I love exploring new coffee shops wherever I can find them and teaching Zumba Fitness classes.