Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 153: "What if someone keeps making fun of my sexual orientation?"

March 02, 2023 Safe+Sound Somerset Season 1 Episode 153
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 153: "What if someone keeps making fun of my sexual orientation?"
Show Notes Transcript
Episode 153: "What if someone keeps making fun of my sexual orientation?"

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On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about people joking about sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.

So, today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, what if someone keeps making fun of my sexual orientation?”

This is a kind of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment isn’t just comments about someone’s body, or about sex. It is also when someone makes unwanted comments or gestures about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

If someone has outed you to other people, or shared your LGTBQ+ identity without permission, that is never okay either. If someone is guessing about your sexual orientation or gender identity, that’s also is not their business. Only you get to decide what your identity is, and who to tell.

If someone is doing this to you, it’s never okay. You don’t deserve to be treated this way. Another thing you can do is remind yourself that you are valid, and that your sexual orientation or gender identity is real and important. The way other people act is unfortunately out of our control, and sometimes it can really hurt. Remind yourself that you don’t deserve to be mistreated.

Try to surround yourself with people who DO respect your identity, who can listen to you and support you. Maybe there’s a teacher at school who is an ally or identifies in the community themselves. You can also find friends, other LGBTQ+ folks, people at an LGBTQ+ community center, a Gay/Straight Alliance club if your school has it, or an online community. Do something you enjoy and remember that you are important.

Also, you get to set boundaries here. You can tell the person making fun of you to stop, if you feel safe to do so. If they don’t stop, they’ve crossed your boundary. If you don’t feel safe to tell them to stop, or it’s getting worse, you can get a trusted adult involved. This could be a family member, teacher, coach, principal, anyone. If that person doesn’t believe you or support you the way you are looking for, look for another trusted adult.

In New Jersey, there are also laws protecting students who are bullied in school. You could decide to report the incident. Talk to your teacher or principal. It could be that an adult is doing this to you, and if that’s the case, find another trusted adult to talk to. 

Remember, you deserve joy, you deserve to be safe, and you deserve to be treated with respect.

To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning. 

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