3 Times Kids Stood Up to Homophobia

For LGBTQ+ youth, bullying is too often a part of growing up. Even before many make sense of their own sexual orientation and gender identity, these kids are more likely than straight and cisgender ones to have classmates bully them.

Watching others get targeted wears on bystanders, too. A study this year showed that high schoolers who witness violence regularly are similarly traumatized as bullied victims. Kids, like adults, need to be empowered to step in.

Let these youth who’ve stood up to homophobia inspire us moving forward.

1. St. Louis Students Face Off Against Westboro Baptist Church

Earlier this year, the Westboro Baptist Church came for Jake Bain. The gay football player was set to speak at his high school the morning they started to roll in. But beyond the haters, Jake saw hundreds at John Burroughs School showing their support. Classmates used the #StandWithJake to stand in solidarity. Alum filmed encouraging videos.

“Just to go outside and just get to see all the amazing support, it was really special,” Jake told WBUR. “I would say [Westboro Baptist Church members] were probably outnumbered 3-to-1.”

Jake had come out the year before in front of his entire school and is now dating the swim captain.

2. High Schoolers Wear Pink Shirts in Solidarity

About a decade ago, David Shepherd and Travis Price saw their classmate getting bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The Nova Scotia high schoolers later bought pink shirts themselves and got other students to join in wearing them.

In honor of International Day of Pink, now millions of Canadians wear pink on April 11.

3. Junior High Students Show Up for Transgender Classmate

After then-13-year-old DW Trantham came out as transgender several years ago, another student’s parents conspicuously pulled their child out of the Boise, Idaho, junior high, fearing they would share a bathroom. Surprisingly, the school board stood with DW’s right to use the bathroom of her choice.

The principal said that a lot of other kids went to elementary school with DW and understood her situation. That was clear when she anxiously returned to her school after all the publicity.

“I walked into my school and it was nine o’clock and I was greeted by hundreds of students,” DW tells Autostraddle. “They all had their hands out to me, ready to give me a hug. They were all wearing stickers, that said, ‘I Am DW.’ They were handing out sheets to sign that they don’t mind that a transgender girl was sharing a bathroom with them… All these people, people that I didn’t even know, people were coming up to me saying, you’re beautiful, stay strong, all throughout the day. There were even lots of teachers that were wearing the ‘I Am DW’ stickers.”

DW has since moved on to advocate that Idaho legislature “add the words” sexual orientation and gender identity to it Human Rights Act.

Teen Vogue has some handy tips for kids (and even adults) who witness bullying and want to intervene.

Photo Credit: Bhumi Finding Herself


Lesa D
Lesa D3 months ago

out of the mouths of babes...

thank you Emily...

Latoya B
Latoya Brookins4 months ago

I tried the Day of Silence once in high school.

Dave fleming
Past Member 4 months ago

Don't let anybody bully you, Fight back, Bullies are sad individuals who can't cope with the real world.

Dave f
Past Member 5 months ago

stand up and be counted, Don't be afraid of the bullies.

Joan E
Joan E6 months ago

Good to see young people standing up for the students who are picked on.

Carol Johnson
Carol Johnson6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

pam w
pam w6 months ago

IS the Westboro cult still in business? Does anyone know?

silja salonen
silja salonen6 months ago

it will be the young who will lead the way

Daniel N
Past Member 6 months ago

Thank you

Caitlin L
Past Member 6 months ago

Thanks for this