Student Resources

For a comprehensive list of community resources, please click here to see out BHUSD Resource Guide.

Worrying about things that are uncertain or having stress before a significant event is normal. If this worry or stress persists and becomes disruptive to healthy living, then it might be anxiety. Anxiety is more common than people think, with 1 in 3 teenagers experience anxiety.


People with anxiety may experience the following:

  • Physical: restlessness, fatigue, muscle aches or tension, difficulty sleeping, increased heart rate or shortness of breath during peaked anxiety
  • Emotional: excessive worry, constant stress, irritability, fearfulness
  • Thoughts: focusing on worst case scenarios, constantly doubting yourself, negative self-concept, increased negativity, over-analyzing 
  • Behaviors: trying to avoid situations or people that make you anxious, excessive planning for every scenario.
What should I do If I am feeling Anxious?
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. 
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly or try 4-7-8 breathing where you breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. 
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Journal. Sometime just getting your thoughts out on paper helps ease anxious feelings. Don't know what to write? Use the BAWC journal prompts to help you.
  • Stay off the internet! Only a doctor should be giving you medical advice, so try not to seek out answers on your own. Looking up symptoms or trying to self diagnose can increase anxiety. 
  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk with your School Counselors or sign up to see a Maple Center Counselor.
What if I get anxious when I have to take a test?

Test anxiety is when people experience extreme distress and anxiety in testing situations. While many people experience some degree of stress and anxiety before and during exams, test anxiety can actually impair learning and hurt test performance. Performance anxiety can occur before a big recital, an important game, or a presentation.


People with testing/performance anxiety tend to experience sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, fainting, or stomach pain/nausea. They may also become fidgety and have a hard time focusing or remembering information, their mind “going blank.” You may feel helpless in these situations. When you feel like you are having test or performance anxiety, you can:

  • Make sure you're prepared. That means studying for the test early until you feel comfortable with the material. Don't wait until the night before. If you aren't sure how to study, ask your teacher or parent for help. Being prepared will boost your confidence, which will lessen your test anxiety.
  • Banish the negative thoughts. If you start to have anxious or defeated thoughts, such as "I'm not good enough," "I didn't study hard enough," or "I can't do this," push those thoughts away and replace them with positive thoughts. "I can do this," "I know the material," and "I studied hard," can go far in helping to manage your stress level when taking a test.
  • Get enough sleep. A good night's sleep will help your concentration and memory.
  • Take deep breaths. If you start to feel anxious while you're taking your test, breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Work through each question or problem one at a time, taking a deep breath in between each one as needed. 
  • Avoid the perfectionist trap. Don't expect to be perfect. We all make mistakes and that's okay. Knowing you've done your best and worked hard is really all that matters, not perfection.
If you need to use some calm down strategies when you are having anxiety, come to the BulldogAid Wellness Center (BAWC) for support!
Additional Resources: 
* Available to borrow in BAWC
Discrimination is the act of making unfair distinctions between people based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they are perceived to belong. To discriminate against someone means to treat that person differently, or less favorably on the basis of racegenderagereligion, or sexual orientation, as well as other categories. Discrimination can occur while you are at school, at work, at home, or in a public place, such as a mall or a restaurant. You can be discriminated against by school friends, teachers, coaches, co-workers, managers, or business owners.
How do I deal with discrimination?
Finding healthy ways to deal with discrimination is important, for your physical health and your mental well-being. Although we cannot control the actions of others, we can find ways to support ourselves during time of discrimination.
Focus on your strengths: Focusing on your core values, beliefs and perceived strengths can motivate you to succeed, and may even protect you from the negative effects of bias. Overcoming hardship can also make you more resilient and better able to face future challenges. Find a mirror in your room or bathroom and use a dry erase marker to create a affirmation board. Write I AM....and then start writing down your affirmations.
Seek Support: Family and friends can remind you of your worth and help you reframe those faulty beliefs that discrimination may perpetuate. They can also help counteract the toll daily discrimination can take.  In a world that regularly invalidates your experiences and feelings, members of your support network can reassure you that you’re not imagining those experiences of discrimination. It can also be helpful to ask friends and family how they handle such events.
Get Involved: Support can come from people outside of your family or circle of friends too! Consider getting involved with like-minded groups and organizations, whether locally or online.  It can help to know there are other people who have had similar experiences to yours.  And connecting with those people might help you figure out how to address situations and respond to experiences of discrimination in ways you haven’t thought of.
Try and think Clearly: Being discriminated against can bring up a lot of strong emotions such as anger, sadness and embarrassment. These experiences often trigger physiological responses, including an increase your blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature.  Try to check in with your body before reacting. Slow your breathing or use other relaxation exercises to calm your body’s stress response. Then you’ll be able to think more clearly about how you want to respond.
Don't Dwell: When you’ve experienced discrimination, it can be really hard to just shake it off. You might want to speak out or complain, but you’re not sure how to go about it, or are afraid of the backlash. So instead, you end up ruminating, or over-thinking about what you should have done. Ruminating or dwelling on those negative thoughts and experiences can actually cause more stress and anxiety. It might be helpful to journal over the ways you can cope with similar experiences in the future. Try to come up with a plan for how you might respond or what you could do differently next time. Once you’ve determined how to respond, try to leave the incident behind you as you go on with your day.
Find a Professional: Discrimination is difficult to deal with on your own, and is often associated with symptoms of depression**. A mental health professional can help you manage symptoms of stress and depression, and can help you find healthy ways to cope. 
 **Information source: American Psychological Association.
If you or someone you know is experiencing discrimination, talk with your school counselor or school administrator. For immediate support, visit our Crisis Resources.
PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Substance/drug misuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of substances including alcohol and illicit drugs.
Substance misuse can often lead to Substance Use Disorder which results is someone's inability to control their substance use and attempts to stop using that substance can cause physical pain or mental distress, otherwise known as withdrawal symptoms.
    • This includes difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state.
    • This illness is common, recurrent, and often serious, but it is treatable and recovery is possible.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, BulldogAid is here to help. Let a School Counselor or Maple Center Counselor know!
How can I avoid substance misuse?
  • Seek help: talk with your School Counselor or request counseling from a Maple Center Counselor  
  • Listen to your family and friends, they care for you and want the best for you
  • Take deep breaths 
  • Healthy habits: good night sleep, regular meals, drink enough water, move/exercise daily
  • Get in nature: spend time in the sun, enjoy the fresh air
  • Journal, self-reflect, practice gratitude. Click here for some journal prompts.
  • Spend time with people or pets you love. Don't have a pet at home? Many LA Animal Shelters will allow minors to volunteer with an adult sponsor.
  • Do things you enjoy: hobbies, sports, watch favorite shows, make art
  • Use your mind: study, read, watch a documentary, do a puzzle, play a game, get creative
How to help someone you know who is using or misusing drugs...
Substance abuse impacts not just the one that is using but those closest to them. If someone you care about is abusing drugs or alcohol and is showing signs and symptoms of Substance Use Disorder, there are resources available for you and them.
  • If a family member is experiencing Substance Use Disorder, families should be open to the options of support groups or family therapy and counseling, which can improve treatment effectiveness by supporting the whole family. It is hard seeing someone you love go through these hardships so it is important to take steps to prioritize your own health as well.
  • If you have questions about substances and their consequences, how you can get help, or what signs and symptoms to look out for, check out the BVMS student submitted FAQ sheet. 
  • Seek help from the BulldogAid Wellness Program and for more information regarding substance abuse please visit the tabs below.
Additional Resources:



Grief from a loss is something that can impact every student on campus. As we know, grief and loss is a universal experience that no one is immune to. Grief is a normal experience and is your mind and body’s way of dealing with loss in life.  

Grief is not centralized to the loss of a loved one. Students can experience feelings of grief if they:

  • lose a family pet
  • end of a romantic or platonic relationship
  • lose possessions in a disaster
  • have aTraumatic experience like assault or abuse
  • Experience divorce
  • Experience a diagnosis of a severe illness either in a loved one or themself.


Any of these events have the potential to trigger a grief response. Grief is normal but different for every person. What causes someone to grieve may not affect someone else at all. 


What are common grief responses? Remember, there is no timeline for grief, so these responses could come up immediately, within months, or even sometimes years after a loss.


  • An outward emotional response to grief can include crying, expressions of anger, or mood swings.
  • You may want to experience grief internally while at school for fear of being teased or bullied for showing emotion or feelings outwardly.
  • You might find yourself acting out more. It is a common way people show their grief as you may not have language yet to describe the feelings you are having.
  • You may be getting more headaches and stomach aches than usual, because sometimes feelings of grief and loss affect us physically.
  • If you are experiencing death or loss for the first time, you may be confused or lack emotion because this experience is new for you.
  • Grief may disrupt sleeping and eating patterns which can affect your ability to be present in the classroom.
  • Distractions are a common coping mechanism for everyone. You may view school as a distraction or reprieve from feelings of grief, so you may not want to talk about it or acknowledge it at school.
  • Questioning can be common and often comes in the form of “why” questions: why did this happen? Why them and not me?


How can I support a someone who is grieving?


  • Be flexible with students experiencing grief and loss: they may not totally be themselves, so be patient with them and know that what they are doing or saying isn't personal.
  • Suggest seeing the counselor if a friend is visibly upset. You can ask them if they want you to come or if they would rather go alone.
  • Cultural practices may influence a students grief response, the language they use to talk about grief and loss and the rituals they practice around grief, so be sensitive to this as best you can.
  • Let them know that their grief response is normal. No one can say a response to grief is normal or abnormal because it is different for everyone. What they are feeling is unique to them, and that is ok. 
  • Listen. Sometimes all people need is a safe place to talk and feel. If you are that someone that person trusts and you are comfortable and available to hear them,  just listening may be enough.
  • Suggest ways they can cope with their feelings: visiting BulldogAid, journaling, listening to music, talking with a friend, playing a game or watching a movie are all ways students can cope.


Additional Resources:

scfs The Grief Practice
dsd BulldogAid Journal Prompts

A healthy relationship is one where everyone is doing their part to keep things happy, respectful, supportive and fair. In healthy relationships, everyone involved shares power and responsibility instead of trying to get or keep all or most of it for themselves.

Relationships where each person is not making a real effort to do their part to make things good for everyone are often unhealthy.

Source: Scarlateen 

What happens in a healthy relationship?


  • Good Communication: In a healthy relationship, communication is often easy. We honestly say what we want, need and feel. We listen to what the other person says they want, need and feel. As the relationship grows and changes, we keep talking openly about both the good stuff and the challenging stuff. When there’s conflict, we work through it in a kind, caring and respectful way. We focus on the issue and caring for each other instead of “winning” an argument or fight.
  • Boundaries: Boundaries are the invisible lines we draw between ourselves and other people so we have the space we need to be ourselves, separate from the relationship. In a healthy relationship, people respect each other’s boundaries. No one pushes or tries to break down anyone’s boundaries.
  • No Pressure: A new relationship may make us happy, but we may want to go slow with the big stuff, like making commitments to, or agreements with each other, or changing our lives in big ways for the relationship. That means not pushing or making any huge decisions when we’ve only been in the relationship a few days, weeks or months. If you're in a healthy relationship, your partner wont pressure you to move faster than you are ready to. 
  • Flexibility: We understand that people, including ourselves, change. Healthy relationships welcome change, even when it is challenging, it is an opportunity to grow togehter. 
  • Independence: We have lives and interests outside of the relationship. This includes having other relationships we value. We don’t rely on or ask one relationship to give us everything we want and need. We also understand that we can’t control our partner or make them be how we want them to be.
  • Trust: When we trust each other, we believe each other’s feelings and actions. We feel our private thoughts and feelings are safe with the other person. We feel we can depend on one another. We accept that we can’t know what someone else is doing every minute of every day. We shouldn’t need to know that when we trust them. If we feel distrustful, we work to build trust instead of seeking to control each other.
  • Equality: Being equals means we have the same amount of say and influence in a relationship. We make big decisions together. One person shouldn’t make all of the decisions in the relationship. One person shouldn’t use their power to do things in or with the relationship that the other person doesn’t want or didn’t agree to.
  • Safety: No one should be emotionally, physically or sexually unsafe in a relationship. No one should be called names or put down, harassed, stalked or emotionally controlled in other ways. No one should be physically hurt on purpose, forced or pressured to do anything they don’t want to do sexually, affectionately or otherwise. We should feel and be actively shown that our partner would never intentionally intentionally harm us. We should clearly show a partner we would never harm them on purpose. If we are not safe in these basic ways or we don’t feel safe, our relationships are likely abusive instead of healthy. If anyone in a relationship is unable to be safe for everyone else in it, that person will first need to become safe for others before getting into or continuing the relationship.
  • Care: We each want the other person to feel safe, happy, and understood in the relationship. If one of us feels scared, unhappy, or stressed by the relationship, we take that as a sign that something needs to change.


What should I look for in a Partner or Friend?

Source: loveisrespect


Look for someone who will:

  • Treat you with respect.
  • Doesn’t make fun of things you like or want to do.
  • Never puts you down.
  • Doesn’t get angry if you spend time with your friends or family.
  • Listens to your ideas and comprises sometimes.
  • Isn’t excessively negative.
  • Shares some of your interests such as movies, sports, reading, dancing or music.
  • Isn’t afraid to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Is comfortable around your friends and family.
  • Is proud of your accomplishments and successes.
  • Respects your boundaries and does not abuse technology.
  • Doesn’t require you to “check in” or need to know where you are all the time.
  • Is caring and honest.
  • Doesn’t pressure you to do things that you don’t want to do.
  • Doesn’t constantly accuse you of cheating or being unfaithful.
  • Encourages you to do well in school or at work.
  • Doesn’t threaten you or make you feel scared.
  • Understands the importance of healthy relationships.


What is Consent?


Consent is when a person agrees to the request of another. Typically consent is used when describing relational or sexual circumstances, like you need to receive willing consent consent before you physically touch someone or you need to receive consent before engaging with someone sexually. In a healthy relationship, both (or all) partners are able to openly talk about and agree on what kind of activity they want to engage in.


It is important to make sure that you and your partner are both comfortable with everything you do in your relationship. Therefore, you should know what consent is and how to get it.


How does consent work?

Some people are worried that talking about or getting consent will be awkward or that it will “ruin the mood,” which is far from true. If anything, the mood is much more positive when both partners feel safe and can freely communicate about what they want. Before you are physically intimate with a partner, talk about what your boundaries are; what are you willing to do? what are you unwilling to do? How should you let each other know if either of you are uncomfortable? Talking openly about these questions beforehand will help ensure everyone is comfortable.


If you are in the heat if the moment, and haven't had the change to get to know someone's boundaries yet, here are some suggestions of things to say:

        • Are you comfortable?
        • Is this okay?
        • Do you want to slow down?
        • Do you want to go any further?


What Consent Looks Like?

      • Communicating every step of the way. For example, during a hookup, ask if it’s okay to take your partner’s shirt off. Don’t just assume that they are comfortable with it.
      • Respecting that when they don’t say “no,” it doesn’t mean “yes.” Consent is a clear and enthusiastic yes! If someone seems unsure, stays silent, doesn’t respond, or says “Maybe…” then they aren’t saying “yes.”
      • Breaking away from gender “rules.” Everyone deserves consent, whether you are a he, she, or they, you deserve to engage in any intimacy feeling completely safe and comfortable. 


What Consent Does NOT Look Like:

      • Assuming that dressing sexy, flirting, accepting a ride, accepting a drink etc. is in any way consenting to anything more.
      • Saying yes (or saying nothing) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
      • Unconscious or sleeping people cannot give consent. Even if consent was given when someone was conscious, they can no longer provide consent in the moment. 
      • Saying yes or giving in to something because you feel too pressured or too afraid to say no.


degsdHere are some RED FLAGS that indicate your partner doesn’t respect consent:

      • They pressure or guilt you into doing things you may not want to do.
      • They make you feel like you “owe” them — because you’re dating, or they gave you a gift, etc. 
      • They react negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say “no” to something, or don’t immediately consent.
      • They ignore your wishes and don’t pay attention to nonverbal cues that could show you’re not consenting, for example, if you are pushing them away as they are trying to kiss you but they keep attempting to kiss you without acknowledging your non-verbal cue that you want them to stop.


Get Consent Every Time

This means getting consent every time you engage with someone physically, even if they have given you consent 100 times before. You never know how someone is feeling, so get consent every time.


Consent and Sexting

      • As with sex itself, consent needs to be considered when sexting, by both the sender and the recipient. When someone shares a sensitive photo of you without your consent, it’s a form of cyberbullying. It might be worth figuring out what you feel comfortable doing and what could cause trouble later on before diving in.
      • Once it’s taken, a photo or video can go anywhere. It can be messaged to other people or even posted online. If the photo, video or message doesn’t exist then there’s no chance of harm. It can’t be shared if it doesn’t exist. If you’re thinking about sexting, make sure you’re prepared for what might happen if the content gets into the wrong hands.
      • What can happen - If things go wrong (and this can be any number of ways) your photo or message gets shared with more people than you wanted or expected, and can cause you great distress. You might feel distressed, angry, humiliated, and like you just want to never face anyone you know again as your privacy has been breached. Remember, it will blow over, but there’s no doubt about it, it’s never a nice situation to be in. Have fun but stay safe. Be wary that once an image is out of your hands it can go anywhere.
      • Ask yourself these questions before you sext:
        • Are you comfortable with the risk that your photo could be shared with others?
        • Is this something both the sender and recipient consent to?
        • Are you feeling pressured to send nude or sexual image?


How do I set healthy boundaries?

Talking about your boundaries with your partner is a great way to make sure that both of your needs are being met and you feel safe in your relationship. Here are some things to think about when setting boundaries in your relationship:


Emotional Boundaries

  • Saying "I love you": Saying “I love you” happens for different people and different times in a relationship. If your partner says it and you don’t feel that way yet, don’t feel bad -- you may just not be ready yet. Let your partner know how it made you feel when they said it and tell them your own goals for the relationship.
  • Time Apart: As great as it is to want to spend a lot of time with your partner, remember that it’s important to have some time away from each other too. Both you and your partner should be free to hang out with friends (male or female) or family without having to get permission. It’s also healthy to spend time by yourself doing things that you enjoy or that help you relax. You should be able to tell your partner when you need to do things on your own instead of feeling trapped into spending all of your time together.   


Physical Boundaries

  • Take Your Time: Don’t rush it if you’re not ready. Getting physical with your partner doesn’t have to happen all at once if you’re not ready. In a healthy relationship, both partners know how far each other wants to go and they communicate to each other if something changes. There isn’t a rule book that says you have to go so far by a certain age or at any given time in a relationship, so take things at your own pace.
  • Quid Pro Quo: You don’t owe your partner anything. Just because your partner takes you out to dinner, buys you a gift or says “I love you” doesn’t mean you owe them anything in response. It isn’t fair for your partner to claim that you don’t care about them because you won’t “go all the way.” Even if you’ve done it before, you are never required to do it just because your partner is pressuring you. 


Privacy & Digital Boundaries

  • Passwords are Private: Even if you trust your partner, sharing passwords for your phone and website accounts isn’t always the best idea. Just like you should be able to spend time by yourself, you are entitled to your own digital privacy. Giving your partner access to your social media allows them to post anything they want without getting your permission first. They can also see everyone that you talk to, which may cause unwarranted jealousy, especially if there isn’t anything going on. Just to be safe, your password should be something that only you know so you know you always have control of your information.
  • DMing: You are entitled to your own boundaries when it comes to texting or sending or receiving sexual DMs. Partners should not pressure you to send them pictures. If you know the risks of sending or receiving pictures or sexual texts, and choose not to be involved in that, your boundary should be respected. If you receive a sex related photo or have a sex related photo of you being distributed, please talk with your parents, a trusted adult or your school counselor. To find out more about sexting read the information below from
Privacy & Digital safety and the law
  • It is not illegal when photos are shared between consenting adults, but when minors are involved, sexual-exploitation and child-pornography laws can come into play. If you’re not 18 years-old and you’re sending sexy texts (or if you’re receiving them from someone under 18 years-old), you could get in a lot of trouble.
  • Any naked or sexual images of people under 18 years-old are considered child pornography, regardless if the sender is over or under 18. There are some really serious legal consequences for people who distribute or possess child porn.
If you or someone you know is in an unsafe or abusive relationship, or has experienced sexual or digital harassment, notify a parent, trusted adult or school counselor immediately.
Additional Resources: 
gsdg Loving BravelySelf Care Tips For TeensLove Is Respect-Self CareCharacteristics of Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships

Tips for Building Healthy Relationships

5 Essentials to Having a Healthy Relationship

Drama by Regina Telgemeier

Stick Up for Yourself by Gershen Kaufman

Speak Up and Get Along by Scott Cooper

The survival Guide for Making and Being Friends by James Christ

3 Steps to Better Communication

Dealing With Difficult Conversations

Finding Your Pack

dsga The Relationship Road Trip
dgdsas Youth Yellow Pages - TEEN LINE
Dating Violence PreventionLove Is Respect's PlaceCrisis Text LineNational Domestic Violence Hotline

Southern California Counseling Center   

Talk to a Normanaid Counselor

Straight Up Treatment

Love is Respect

What To Do If You're A Victim of Teen Dating Violence

Vista Del Mar

The Maple Center



BulldogAid Wellness Center welcomes students of any gender or sexual orientation. Any BulldogAid program is a safe space and offers affirming mental health services to LGBTQIA+ identified youth, families and allies.


In adolescence, teens are beginning to discover what it means to be attracted romantically and physically to others, and recognizing your own and others sexual or gender identity can be part of the process. 


Learning about your gender identity and sexual orientation or how to be a supportive ally, can feel overwhelming sometimes. BulldogAide is here for you! You are not alone.

  • The BAWC provides an inclusive environment that is a safe space for any student who is struggling to come and take a break. 
  • Your School Counselors are here to help you with resources and support. 
  • We are here to help you create a shared understanding among school staff about the ways in which your authentic gender will be accounted for and supported at school.  The School Success and Opportunity Act (Assembly Bill 1266)  Source: Kids Health

What is sexual orientation? 

The term sexual orientation refers to the gender to which a person is attracted. There are several types of sexual orientation that are commonly described:

  • Heterosexual (straight). People who are heterosexual are romantically and physically attracted to members of the opposite sex: males are attracted to females, and females are attracted to males. Heterosexuals are often called "straight".
  • Homosexual (queer/gay or lesbian). People who are homosexual are romantically and physically attracted to people of the same sex: females are attracted to other females; males are attracted to other males. Homosexuals (whether male or female) are often called "gay" or "queer". Gay females are also called "lesbian".
  • Bisexual. People who are bisexual are romantically and physically attracted to members of both sexes.
  • Asexual. People who are asexual may not be interested in sex, but they still feel emotionally close to other people.

Do we choose our sexual orientation?


  • Being straight, queer, or bisexual is not something that a person can choose or choose to change. In fact, people don't choose their sexual orientation any more than they choose their height or eye color. 
  • Medical experts and organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Psychological Association (APA) view sexual orientation as part of someone's nature. Being gay is also not considered a mental disorder or abnormality.
  • Despite myths and misconceptions, there is no evidence that being queer is caused by early childhood experiences, parenting styles, or the way someone is raised.
  • Efforts to change queer people to straight (sometimes called "conversion therapy") have been proven to be ineffective and can be harmful. Health and mental health professionals caution against any efforts to change a person's sexual orientation.
What is gender identity?
Source: Human Rights Campaign 
  • Gender Identity: One's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
  • Gender Expression: External appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
  • Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.
  • Gender Transition: The process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with its outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions.
  • Gender Dysphoria: Clinically significant distress caused when a person's assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term – which replaces Gender Identity Disorder – "is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults.
How LGBTQIA+ teens might feel...

Like their straight peers, LGBTQIA+ teens may stress about school, grades, college, sports, activities, friends, and fitting in. But they often deal with an extra layer of stress — like whether they have to hide who they are, whether they will be harassed about being gay, or whether they will face stereotypes or judgments if they are honest about who they are.
  • They often feel different from their friends when the heterosexual people around them start talking about romantic feelings, dating, and sex. For them, it can feel like everyone is expected to be straight.
  • They may feel like they have to pretend to feel things that they don't in order to fit in. They might feel they need to deny who they are or hide an important part of themselves.
  • Many queer teens worry about whether they will be accepted or rejected by their loved ones, or whether people will feel upset, angry, or disappointed in them. These fears of prejudice, discrimination, rejection, or violence, can lead some teens who aren't straight to keep their sexual orientation secret, even from friends and family who might be supportive
Coming Out
Coming out as LGBTQIA+ can be exciting, overwhelming, and sometimes scary. It’s different for everyone, and you’re the only one who can decide when the time is right.
  • What is “coming out”? “Coming out” is understanding your own sexual orientation or gender identity and then deciding to share it with some or all of the people in your life. Coming out is different for everyone and there are lots of ways to do it. Some LGBTQIA+ people choose to come out only to themselves, and not to anyone else. Only you can know what’s best for your life right now. 
  • Should I come out? Coming out is a decision that LGBTQIA+ people have to face all the time, with every new person they meet. So it’s something you’ll probably do over and over again throughout your life. The way you approach and experience coming out might change, depending on where you are and who you’re with.
  • Who should I come out to? Think about the people you’re closest to and who would love and accept you no matter what — those people can help support you as you come out to others in your life. If you live with or depend upon your parents for financial support, and you think that coming out could get you kicked out of the house or put you in an unsafe situation, you might consider waiting to tell them until you’re more independent. You School Counselor can be a great support for you if you need help coming out!

Coming out is a very personal decision. You and only you get to decide if, when, and how you do it. Coming out can be a really important step, and people should only come out if and when they’re ready and feel safe doing so. It’s never ok to pressure someone into coming out or to out a LGBTQIA+ person without their permission. If you think coming out might cause you harm — physical, emotional, or financial — you may decide to wait to come out until you have a plan to take care of yourself. For more support, read The Trevor Project Coming-Out-Handbook


How can I be an ally to my LGBTQIA+ peers?


Being an ally is about supporting equal rights and justice for LGBTQIA+ folks, and it’s also about helping your friends know that you have their back and they aren’t alone.

  • Educate yourself: Learning about the experiences and history of LGBTQIA+ people is an important way to understand the issues that are affecting your friends. It’s not the responsibility of LGBTQ people to educate you, so step up to the plate and explore the books, blogs, and videos, out there. (Learn more about pronouns here, Learn more about allyship here, Learn more about gender identity here)
  • Listen:  As a person who’s trying to ally yourself with your LGTBQIA+ friends, one of the most important things you can do is listen to as many people in the community as possible. 
  • Don’t Assume: It’s impossible to know what a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation is just by looking at them, so don’t make assumptions. But do assume there could be LGBTQIA+ people in every space you’re in. Assuming that everyone around you is straight makes things harder for LGBTQIA+ people.
  • Speak up: If you notice bullying or oppressive language, say something. Anti-LGBTQIA+ comments and jokes are hurtful. Call out your friends, family, or co-workers and let them know that you find them offensive. If you see a young person being hurt or bullied because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, let an adult know. And speak up when you see anti-LGBTQ comments online, or jokes where LGBTQIA+ people are the punchlines.
  • Never “out” someone: It’s important to let people come out in their own way, and on their own terms. Telling people that a friend is LGBTQ without their permission can break trust and even put them in danger. Depending on their personal situation, they may be at risk for homophobic bullying and violence if people find out they’re gay or trans. It is never okay to out someone without their permission.
Additional Resources:
Get Help

The Trevor Project Guide to Being an Ally to and Nonbinary Youth

Miseducation Cameron Post

It's Not Like It's a Secret

Rubyfruit Jungle

Queer There Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed The World

Voices of LGBTQ+

The Book of Pride

Tomorrow Will Be Different

Simon vs Homo Sapiens

Found in Transition: A Mother’s Evolution during Her Child’s Gender Change

If I Was A Girl

Defining LGBTQ

LGBTQ Definitions Every Good Ally Should Know

5 Tips for Being a Good Ally 

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages

Allyship Made Easy Understanding the First Steps for Taking Action in Social Justice Against Racism

Unlocking The Power of Diversity









We will always have points in life where we feel sad or hopeless, these feelings are part of being a human. We cannot avoid tough situations, its important for us to experience sadness from time to time.
Sadness and hopelessness becomes depression when it is persistent deep sadness that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical health. If you feel depressed, you may begin to feel numb to any emotion. Depression can interfere with your ability to study, eat, sleep, and have fun. You may also feel persistent helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.


People with depression tend to experience the following:

  • Physical: changes in appearance/hygiene, changes in sleep patterns, change in appetite, low energy, stomach or headaches, difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional: sad all the time, frustrated, irritable, anger outbursts, anxious, easily upset, hopeless, helpless, worthless, despair
  • Thoughts: loss of interest in hobbies, “nothing matters”, “I’m always misunderstood”, low self-esteem, self-blame or criticism, thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Behaviors: unusual reactions to little things, changes in mood/personality, pulling away from people/isolating yourself, a decline in school performance, extremely sensitive to failure, rejection, or criticism
What should I do if I this I am depressed?
If you have been sad or hopeless for a long time, and you are having a hard time feeling happy or optimistic, your first step should be to tell a trusted adult, like a parent, family member, or your school counselor. They can help you get set up with the resources you need to get help. 
If you're not sure, try some of these tips to see if they make you feel better:
  • Get plenty of sunlight.
  • Get enough sleep. 
  • Get plenty of exercise. 
  • Do the things you love.
  • Reach out to people and connect. 
  • Set a routine. 
  • Set goals. 
  • Challenge negative thoughts. 
  • Try something new. 


If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, reach out to a friend, trusted adult, or your school counselor for support. 


Suicidal ideation sometimes referred to as suicidal thoughts, describes thoughts, fantasies, ideas, or images related to dying by suicide. When hearing the word suicide, some people may shy away or feel this is a taboo topic to be avoided in any discussion.  The reality is the more we talk about it, the more comfortable we get, which allows more people to access help.


Suicidal ideation is often caused by some mental health disorders like depression or drug misuse. Some other factors that contribute to suicidal ideation include social difficulties, stress, academic pressure, performance pressure, poor social relationships, lack of family support, physical or sexual abuse, health issues, and bullying.


It can be scary and lonely to experience suicidal ideation and sometimes you may be afraid to tell someone for fear they will not take you seriously, will “overreact,” or that your pain still won’t go away. The reality is sharing with a mental health professional, trusted friend or adult is often the first step in getting the help you need to start feeling better.


If you need immediate help, and you are at school, go see your School Counselor. 
If you are not at school, and you or a friend needs immediate help, find a trusted adult or use the links under the "Get Help" section below. 
What should I do my friend is thinking about suicide?
  • Don't be afraid to talk to your friends about suicide, you will not be putting ideas into their head. Listen to their feelings. Make sure they know how important they are to you, but don't believe you can keep them from hurting themselves on your own. Preventing suicide will require adult or professional help.

  • Know the warning signs. Warning Signs

  • Make no deals. Never keep secrets about a friend's suicidal plans or thoughts. You cannot promise that you will not tell. You have to tell someone to get help for your friend.

  • Talk to a your School Counselor, teacher, parent or another adult about your friend and your concerns.

*Source: LA County Youth Suicide Prevention Project

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it's very important that you get immediate help! Depending on the emergency, you may want to consider the following options:


Call 911 or
Go to the nearest hospital emergency room
Additional Resources: