According to gay students at Carmel High, most Padres are accepting of the gay community, but some still use derogatory terms such as “fag” and “queer.”
Students that are gay, lesbian or bisexual were asked about the treatment of the gay community at CarmelHigh School and about homophobic name-calling, and the feedback indicates both positives and areas for improvement.
Senior Dominik Haws, who is gay, expresses that the school really helps and supports his identity: “[CHS] creates a safe environment for gays, lesbians and bisexual people.”
Haws came out August of his freshman year, and he remembers how his friends were very supportive. Feeling relieved, he says he was able to show his friends who he really was, being more open about the subject, which helped him to be more ambitious.
Haws also mentions that students really don’t call him names, but when they use words such as “fag” around him, it’s frustrating because they don’t know the disrespect conveyed by such terms.
Junior Matt Manniello, also gay, mentions that as far as school goes, he feels supported and doesn’t face any type of rejection.
Maniello, a CHS volleyball player, came out at the beginning of this year on Facebook. People around him were positive about it, but he explains some students don’t believe he is gay because his actions don’t conform to gay stereotypes. Maniello says he has also heard students use anti-gay slurs, and even though he doesn’t take such remarks personally, he feels as though it is very disrespectful.
Maniello notes that the Gay-Straight Alliance/Diversity Club helps a lot and makes students feel comfortable with whom they really are.
The GSA and the National Coalition Building Institute clubs were combined at CHS four years ago and became known as the Diversity Club, whose goal is making students take a stand when someone is being discriminated by race, ethnicity or sexual preference.
This club has been around for almost six years.
Librarian Elena Loomis is one of the Diversity Club advisors and explains that the club’s goal is to help people see the diversity at our school and to make everyone feel welcome.
Sophomore Taylor Smith, who is bisexual and an active member of the Diversity Club, talks about how she feels a lot of support from the student group.
Smith came out her freshman year, explaining her experience as “freaky but good.” She says her family is accepting on the subject and they support her.
“I would say this school is pretty open when it comes to being gay, but a lot of slurs come around,” Smith says. “It bothers me because people say it out of ignorance and don’t really get how it can affect a person.”
Although no CHS students questioned indicate observing intense prejudice against the gay community on campus, students still may not know one simple word, used even as a joke, can affect someone deeply.
“You love who you love,” Haws says. “It’s the same for everyone. People that are in the closet, they don’t need to be afraid of being who they are. They just need to believe in themselves. There are people who will support you.”