According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a survey taken of lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people in a number of public school districts showed that as many as 28% were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. The CDC also says that statistics show that 7th-12th grade students who identify with the LGBT community are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers. Due to these statistics, it is crucial that you take several precautions if you are the parent of an LGBT child. Here's what you need to know.
Watch for Red Flags
Parents typically know their children better than anyone. Ideally, you'd want your child to willingly open up to you to tell you when things are horribly wrong in their lives. It's important to watch your child for red flags that they are being bullied while in school and/or they are having suicidal thoughts, such as:
- they are no longer interested in their after-school activities
- they try to avoid going to school
- their grades get worse
- they have difficulty sleeping and eating
- they are depressed and withdrawn
- they talk about death and suicide
When asked, they may insist that everything is perfectly fine. However, if your teen tells you that he or she is being bullied at school or you see red flags that warn you of victimization from bullying, get your child into therapy and schedule a meeting with your child's school guidance counselor.
Meet with the Guidance Counselor & Other School Officials
The guidance counselor may have more insight of what's going on on school property that is causing problems for your teen. When you call for the appointment, briefly explain the situation to the guidance counselor so he or she can do some investigating by asking your child's teachers and other school officials about what they are seeing beforehand. The guidance counselor should discuss what the school can do to prevent students from bullying your child. If you aren't satisfied with the outcome of the meeting or your teen continues to get bullied, schedule a meeting with the guidance counselor, school administration, principal, and teachers.
But before you attend this particular meeting, meet with an injury lawyer first so you can be armed with legal information regarding the various policies and procedures that your school district has in place for bullying behaviors, which will help you identify whether or not the school is fulfilling their duty of care to provide a safe environment for your child. If, however, the bullying is severe and you feel that more drastic measures need to be taken, have your lawyer also attend the meeting with the school officials.
Schedule Therapy to Teach Your Child Coping Mechanisms
Since the world can be a cruel place, it's a good idea for your teen to learn coping mechanisms that may help him or her deal with bullying behavior and help keep them from having suicidal thoughts for the remainder of the school year. The majority of the first therapy appointment will primarily consist of intake procedures that will help the therapist determine the severity of the situation and how often your teen should be scheduled for therapy sessions.
If you are unable to pay for the therapy sessions and/or school bullying is undeniable as the cause of your teen's mental health issues and suicidal ideation, consider asking your lawyer about what options are available for legal recourse in your particular state. You may be able to settle out of court with a stipulation that the therapist bill the school district for the sessions.