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Being LGBTQ At An Art Academy

Let’s face it. High school is tough.

But for an LGBTQ student dealing with being “different,” high school is so much more than tough.

It can be a nightmare. Or worse yet, dangerous. Particularly if that student becomes the target of severe ridicule and bullying.

Interestingly, this is not so much the case for being LGBTQ at an art academy.

Being LGBTQ At An Art Academy Is More Accepted

In many cases, it’s FAR more accepted. And LGBTQ students can attest to this.

But how come?

Perhaps it has to do with the way those who are artistically inclined tend to see the world. The creative mind is open and inspired by variety and change. It sees the potential in that which is different. And it thrives in an environment where conventional thinking is constantly challenged.

Then again, it may be that an open mind is inherently creative. Who’s to say?

Whatever the case, LGBTQ students who attend art academies or other institutions focusing on creative ventures do not stand out as odd or strange. At least not any more so than the other students.

Because when every student is encouraged to celebrate their unique differences – to let their inner weirdo shine, as it were – there’s a huge drop in bullying.

Embracing Differences Cultivates a Safer Environment

Some people say that bullying is just a natural part of getting through adolescence. And that learning how to navigate it teaches young adults valuable life skills.

To some extent, this may true. We all have to come to grips with the fact that some people will always attempt to wield their power – imagined or otherwise – over us.

But there’s a significant difference between garden variety bullying and the dangerous and unrelenting mocking experienced by some students as a result of their sexual orientation.

In fact, a 2013 study found that 6 out of 10 LGBTQ students reported feeling ostracized and even unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation.

What’s even more serious is that bullying-provoked suicides among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the United States appear to be increasing.

For these kids, school is its own personal brand of hell. And they want an escape.

The Road to Getting “Woke” Is Long

In 2003, a highly comprehensive nationwide report on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students nationwide was conducted. The results of the study found that 86.2 percent of those students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1 percent physically harassed and 22.1 percent physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

 The study also found that such harassment negatively impacted these students’ ability to achieve success in school. Grade-point levels of LGBTQ students were, on average, a half a point lower than that of heterosexual students.

This also translated to higher dropout levels for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

Why would anyone want to continue to attend a school that doesn’t protect them or have their best interests at heart?

Things Have Surely Improved Since 2003, Right?

You’d think so. But progress is slow.

Even today, no law currently exists in Michigan specifically outlining protection for LGBTQ youth from bullying. And up until 2011, Michigan was one of only five states without any anti-bullying law whatsoever.

Yes, there are efforts in some schools to create Gay-Straight Alliances to provide some protection for those who are ruthlessly bullied. But sometimes it’s just not enough.

And for schools where these alliances don’t exist, the problems persist. Even now in 2019.

LGBTQ Students Find Solace in Art Academies

As we stated above, we can only speculate why it’s easier and safer to be LGBTQ at an art academy.

The arts certainly foster freedom of expression and diversity.

And the natural byproduct of these is acceptance – for both straight and LGBTQ students. So it makes sense that schools focusing on the arts are such a beacon for those who want to live in a world that embraces differences.

Regardless of your sexual orientation, if you feel that an art-focused education could be beneficial, then why not set up a tour of our school?

As principal, Dr. Mike Mitchell says, “We spend a lot of time during our orientations and new student tours discussing diversity and encouraging kids to be supportive of each other.”

How cool is that?


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