It is appalling, though sadly not surprising, to find that a "popular" student at Richard Montgomery High School talks freely and without guilt of beating up gay people {"Sweet Sixteen: Portrait of an Age You'll Never Be Again," Magazine, Nov. 25}. And the ease with which young Mr. Ferguson can discuss his violent behavior without fear of personal consequence (and even broadcast it throughout the metropolitan area in the pages of The Post Magazine) multiplies the impact of that violence.

Every lesbian, gay and bisexual student (as well as students who are uncertain about their sexual identities) is harmed by the reinforcement that the article gives to the notion that they are fair game for violent attacks. Is it any wonder that sexual minority youth dare not share their innermost feelings with others and hence are victims of isolation and depression that result in a suicide rate three times higher than that of teenagers in general?

Richard Montgomery High School and all high schools can take some actions to rectify this problem. They can implement educational and sensitivity training programs on sexual-identity issues for all of their students and their teaching and counseling staffs. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene considers such an educational program sufficiently important that it has developed a curriculum in conjunction with the Sexual Minority Youth Assistant League, a social service agency that focuses on the needs of lesbian and gay youths. In addition, schools can make sure that every student knows that violence or threats of violence against lesbian and gay students will not go unpunished.

Sweet sixteen must be sweet for all of our youth.

CHUCK GOLDFARB President Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League Washington