By | Kalayeh Houck
What does it take for a mixed-race, 12-year-old, 6th-grade LGBTQ girl to be seen?
In school I don’t feel seen but at home, I am seen. I feel seen at home because I am comfortable being me, but at school, I don’t have that exact environment or community where I feel seen.
There are 1,424 kids in my school and only 74 teachers. Not everyone is being heard and it doesn’t matter who you are. Whether you are someone of color, or have a disability, or you speak another language, or a person from the LGBTQIA+ community, or a person just figuring out who they are, you should be heard no matter who you are.
Now, how can we get kids like me in school to feel heard or seen? Being seen makes me feel safe at school. When teachers acknowledge that I am there and ask how I’m doing it makes me feel safe in my environment. But, that’s not just the teacher’s job, so we need to create a system to try to acknowledge kids. Counselors can be a part of that, but sometimes kids (even me) are scared to talk to a counselor. We worry whether they will judge us or think we need serious help. So we need to build trust and then build a system where kids can feel safe talking to an adult.
In the past, I’ve had some experiences where I’ve felt heard and seen. Youth Equity Leaders and Learners (Y.E.L.L.) is a program where some of the kids from school talk about different challenges of being a person of color and really bring attention to said challenges, programs like those make me feel seen.
It’s hard to find who you are and your identity when there’s no one hearing you, and if no one is helping you in that process it’s hard to find out who you are. People tend to not have help in that process so they begin to feel unwanted because no one is seeing them, and maybe someone is struggling and they can’t seek help as easily. Having programs where you feel acknowledged, and feel comfortable in that environment can be a tremendous help. Some people make me feel wanted and are helping me find out who I am. Some of those people are my friends, they hear me out and listen and see if I’m okay and don’t care about what other people think of me. They don’t judge me and that makes me feel safe and wanted to be around and that helps me a lot through that process.
So what do you think it takes for a mixed biracial LGBTQ+ 6th-grade girl to feel safe and seen in her environment whether I am at home or at school?
What does it take for everyone to feel safe?
Kalayeh Houck is currently a 6th grader at Campus Middle School. She enjoys soccer, art, and spending time with her friends.