Being Queer in West Virginia


According to the Williams Institute School of Law, just over half of West Virginia residents agree that LGBTQ individuals frequently experience discrimination in the U.S. In 2017 GLSEN National School Climate Survey found that in the year prior 82% of participants from West Virginia had experienced discrimination at school due to their sexual orientation and or gender identity. The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization focused on crisis prevention for LGBTQ+ youth, found that in 2020, 40% of LGBTQ+ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year. It is imperative for West Virginia, and society as a whole, to create a safer and more affirming environment for America’s queer youth (Fitsimons, 2020).

I know many individuals at Greenbrier West who have experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Not only at home but in the classroom as well. As a member of the queer community, I am no stranger to the cruelty of my peers and I know firsthand the devastating effects it can have on someone’s mental health. I spoke with three LGBTQ+ students at West about their experiences with prejudice and bigotry and how that has affected their High School experience as a whole.

When asked what the most difficult part of being a queer student at West is, respondent #1 said, “The hardest thing would have to be how people talk about our community. It is deeply hurtful, especially when members of my family are doing so,”. Respondents #2 and #3 said “Knowing I can’t come out to just anyone because of being judged or bullied is the hardest part.” and “it’s hard to be open with people without getting harassed or being made fun of.”

If I could tell someone who felt being queer was wrong one thing, it would be that I am just like anybody else. I am not sinful or evil. I’m just a normal kid. Respondent #2 said the same, “I’m the same person before you knew I was LGBTQ,”. It’s important for us as a community to work together to destigmatize being queer. Creating a more supportive environment for LGBTQ+ youth can significantly improve their mental health and self-esteem.
“The only thing I wish I could say is a question,” said respondent #2 “Why do you care so much about what other people do?”. Respondent #3 had a similar answer, “To the people who don’t support me, you do you, but leave me alone. Don’t harass or threaten people who you don’t agree with. It’s a general courtesy, ya know?”. All LGBTQ people want is to be treated like anybody else.

Lastly, the final question I had for my respondents was: Do you feel accepted at Greenbrier West? The answer from each student was a resounding ‘no’. “Most of the time I do not feel safe or supported at school.” said respondent #1. #2 said, “If I were to come out at school it would only be to people who I know very well.”

Respondent #3 had a message for any student who struggles with their LGBTQ+ identity: “It’s important to not get caught up with who does or does not support you.” he remarked, “at the end of the day the only opinion that matters is your own.”



National suicide hotline: 800-273-8255

Transgender lifeline: (877) 565 8860

Trevor project text helpline: Text ‘START’ to 678-678

Trevor project call line: 1-866-488-7386

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