Everybody is different. We all have unique characteristics that make us who we are. But sometimes you can feel as though you don’t fit in. And sometimes other people can treat you differently because they don’t think you’re like them. It might be that you look different because of your hair or skin colour. You could have a disability. You and your family might follow a different religion. You could be from a different culture. Or you might be homosexual or bisexual.
No one should make you feel bad or stop you doing certain things because of who you are. But sadly bullying and discrimination happen all the time. Bullying is different to discrimination though. When someone bullies you, it can be for no reason at all. It might just be because they don’t like you or because they feel like being nasty.
Discrimination is when someone stops you doing something or is nasty because of who you are, what you believe in or a disability. Sometimes people discriminate without realising it. This might mean someone with a disability isn’t allowed to play on a sports team at school. Other times discrimination takes the form of bullying, such as picking on someone because of the colour of their skin.
Even if it’s not done on purpose it’s still wrong. If you feel like you are being discriminated against or see someone else being discriminated against you should say something.
If you are being bullied or suffering discrimination it can make you lose your self confidence. There are some things you can do to feel more confident. Small steps like trying something new, walking with your head held high or even wearing a bright colour can all help.
Often people are nasty to other people because they are scared or don’t understand them. Try talking to people about the thing that makes you different. If you follow a different religion to them you could ask them questions about their beliefs before you explain your beliefs to them.
People can also have prejudices about certain groups. This means they have an opinion about a group of people that isn’t accurate. Prejudice is negative and can affect how people behave towards you if they think you are different. Challenging prejudice is difficult and it can be hard to get people who are prejudiced to listen to you. Talking openly about who you are and what you believe in can help though.
I’m homosexual and want to come out, what should I do?
If you know you are gay or lesbian and feel ready to start telling people you don’t need to rush anything. It can be good to come out in stages. This might mean starting by just telling one or two people who you completely trust. It can be hard to start this kind of conversation. Try talking about openly gay or lesbian celebrities to see how people react. This can help you decide who you will feel comfortable talking to about this.
You should never feel pressured to tell everyone about your sexual orientation. If you only want a few close friends to know that’s fine. Many people will be supportive when you tell them but remember that some people might be shocked. It might take them time to adjust.
If you are worried about telling your parents that you are LGB it’s a good idea to tell someone you know will be supportive first. They can help you work out the best way to approach it and be there to support you once you’ve told your mum and dad.
How can I get involved in sports if I’m disabled?
There are lots of opportunities for people with disabilities to get involved in sport. The English Federation of Disability Sport has a lot of information about the different sports you can try and where you can try them.
If you are being excluded from sport at school because of your disability you should talk to someone about it. Try speaking to one of the sports teachers about how you can get involved. They might be able to modify some of the activities for you. If they aren’t helpful you should talk to your parents. Being active and playing sports can help build up your confidence and help you make new friends.
What should I do if I think I’m being discriminated against?
If you’re being discriminated against it can make you feel very lonely. You might think that no one understands you, but you shouldn’t have to feel this way. You should talk to an adult about what’s happening to you. Tell someone you trust what’s been going on.
You should keep a diary of the discrimination you experience to help you explain what’s happening. You can also use this as evidence. Your school will have a discrimination and equal opportunities policy that you can look at. It will give you guidance about what to do if other young people or a teacher is discriminating against you. Your school should be able to help.
How can I fit in at school?
You shouldn’t feel like you have to change who you are to fit in at your school. If you feel as though people don’t understand you and treat you differently the best thing to do is try talking to them.
People can get scared of things they don’t understand or that are new to them. That might be your religion, your upbringing, your sexuality or your disability. It could even be your interests outside of school. If you can share some positive things about what makes you different they might start to understand you better and feel more comfortable.
There can be a lot of peer pressure in school to look and behave in a certain way. If you can build up your self confidence you will be happier being yourself. Remember that you shouldn’t have to change for people to like you.
Did you know?
-7% of children in the UK are disabled
-In the most recent census 17 ethnic groups were identified in the UK
-3.3% of young adults aged 16 to 24 in the UK identify themselves as being lesbian, gay or bisexual
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