The Effects of Homophobia at Saint Pete High


Skylah Murray

The Gay-Straight Alliance poster on the door of Mr. Belcastro’s classroom

Homophobia is a problem that is often overlooked or downplayed, but the effects of homophobia are undeniable. According to the CDC, homophobia negatively affects the physical and mental health of LGBTQ people. Schools often create a breeding ground for homophobia with a 2021 GLSEN survey reporting that over 83.1% of LGBTQ+ students faced discrimination during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Saint Petersburg High School does not seem to deviate from this trend either, many of the students interviewed for this article reported either to have witnessed homophobia or have faced homophobic discrimination themselves.

One student stated that “People are called slurs like it’s nothing.” Other students highlighted the difficulties they faced in reporting homophobic abuse stating that “people who are different face bullying a lot, report and nothing happens to the person.” Troublingly another student mentioned that some teachers seem to not take such abuse seriously saying that “people say things in front of teachers, and they’ll act like they didn’t hear anything. One teacher said that they were shocked but not surprised by this, “If a student is uncomfortable and feels like [my classroom] is not a safe space, that is my responsibility” they said. Many teachers are put in uncomfortable situations as dealing with such situations can result in a loss of valuable teaching time and with many conversations going on in classrooms, it can be difficult for teachers to hear and properly address homophobic abuse in their classrooms. Homophobia is a severe problem and needs to be dealt with as such. Any discriminatory abuse faced by a student is unacceptable and schools often serve as a safe space for many students who face discrimination at home.

The GLSEN survey also mentions several solutions to the problem, citing that having more supportive staff members, inclusive school policies and curriculums, and more GSAs can help to reduce the amount of homophobia faced by students and improve the mental and physical health of LGBTQ+ students. Tackling homophobia at Saint Petersburg High School requires much more than a quick fix or a mental health day video, it will take a concerted and sincere effort to address the abuse faced by students to cultivate a positive learning experience for all students.