Gen Z is among the most racially and ethnically diverse generations in American history. We’re also one of the most progressive. Gen Z are almost 50% likely to say that allowing homosexual marriages is a good thing for society, and only 66% identify as exclusively heterosexual. And we only grow more progressive, with 75% of Gen Z-ers more accepting of non-traditional gender identities than they were a year ago, with more and more people identifying as queer.
Not everything is perfect, no. LGBTQ youth (or those perceived as such) are at an increased risk of being bullied than our heterosexual counterparts. Nationwide, more U.S. high school students who self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual report having been bullied on school property 16% more, and cyberbullied 13% more, than those who self-identify as heterosexual. While being “out” as an LGBTQ adult is associated with positive social adjustment, being “out” or just being perceived as being LGBTQ can put youth at increased risk for bullying. While the numbers may seem small, they are significant. Bullying creates an increased risk for depression, suicidal ideation, misuse of drugs and alcohol, risky sexual behavior, and affects academic performance. Thankfully, every generation grows more tolerant and fights these injustices daily.
When I came out in 8th grade, I was scared about what my friends and peers would think. I tried to deny my own sexuality for months, telling myself that I could never like girls; that while I was an LGBTQ+ ally, I could never be gay myself. But I realized that I couldn’t keep lying to myself and those around me about who I was. When I did come out, I found that not only did my friends accept and love me for who I was, but I was able to connect with a whole new group of people. Being bisexual is an integral part of my identity, and I couldn’t be who I am today without accepting that part of me. Are there sometimes cruel comments? Yes. Will I have to deal with homophobia as I grow up and move away from my community? Probably. But every day I’m thankful that I was born in 2004 and not even a decade prior; I’m so grateful that I get to grow up as a queer Gen-Z kid, in a generation that accepts everyone for who they are.
We are a generation that is profoundly anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-xenophobic, and anti–religious bigotry. We are a generation of tolerance and decency. We should be proud of that, but we have to also be proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans peers. We have to stick up for those who sometimes cannot stick up for themselves. When we do that, our generation will become the movers and shakers of the world. Adults should know that Gen Zers are not a generation to blindly follow traditional beliefs. To garner support from Gen Z-ers, adults have to support what we believe in. Holding fast to bigoted beliefs is not the way to have Gen Z support, and all adults, especially politicians or those in power, should know that.
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Cecilia Granda-Scott is 16 years old. She is Cuban-American, and was born and raised in Miami. Ceci is a junior at Ransom Everglades Upper School in Miami, Florida. She identifies as bisexual and came out in 8th grade. A swimmer since 5th grade, she is on the Varsity Swimming and Waterpolo teams. Her more recent passion is competing on the Speech and Debate team in Public Forum Debate, an activity in which she devotes hours too. Ceci loves researching topics that interest her for hours, and plans to be a lawyer in the future. She hopes to share relevant and important topics with the rest of Gen Z, and aims to inspire others to feel the same way. She is an avid reader and would definitely call herself a nerd!