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High School can be a difficult time for so many people. There’s so much pressure to get good grades, have the perfect extracurricular presence, and create a blossoming social image. It’s hard for anyone who is navigating these waters. This is a time when you don’t want to stand out or make too many waves for fear of social ridicule. So many people don’t feel like they can just be themselves in High School. This is especially true for LGBT youth in High School.

If you are part of the LGBT+ community and currently in High School, remember that you aren’t alone. There are thousands of kids across the country in the same position as you who are trying to learn who they are while navigating classes and football games. You are a beautiful and unique student who brings a lot to every school year and academic experience. For LGBT+ freshmen to seniors, here are a few tips and words of encouragement to help you all have a bright future as High School students and beyond.

Find the support systems you need.

There are so many resources out there for LGBT+ youth in High School. Explore options for you to get the support and love you need, especially if you’re going through a difficult time in school. Check out different clubs and organizations that help support your community. You can also seek out safe spaces within your school and find counselors or faculty members who are there to give you the encouragement or listening ear that you need.

If needed, you can also seek out professional counseling to help you navigate the complex feelings of growing up in general and growing up LGBTQ. While being gay in the 2020s is not as ostracized as it was 50 years ago, there is, unfortunately, still a lot of nuance and hate shown to your community. If you need to unpack those complex emotions, consider looking for a gay therapist or someone who specializes in LGBT+ matters. With their qualifications, these individuals are ready to help you with your specific concerns and grievances about growing up different from the “mainstream.” Find that person that you can open up to about LGBT issues who will treat you with compassion and care. Get a referral and schedule your appointments now to see if therapy can help you feel happier on a regular basis.

Look for school groups and clubs where you feel comfortable.

Many High School students are embracing LGBTQ people and supporting them with open arms. Try to find a group that will give you this same level of support. High School offers a number of great extracurricular activities. Look for your school’s chapter of an LGBTQ organization or explore leadership opportunities where your different perspective is welcomed. Find the spaces where you feel comfortable, whether that is the drama club, diversity club, or National Honors Society high school. There are so many opportunities for outstanding student achievement in which you can excel in so many different ways.

Only share what you feel comfortable sharing.

Everyone navigates their coming-out journey differently. Some members of the LGBTQ community are comfortable sharing their sexuality openly while others aren’t. Remember, you are the author of your own story. You get to choose what you’re comfortable sharing and what you would rather keep private. You can have an active involvement in the community or choose to focus on other aspects of your personality. No one gets to force you into talking about your sexuality or opening up when you don’t want to. Make sure you find those safe spaces and stick to the groups where you feel completely comfortable.