Sunday, October 15, 2006

Carl's Story 13: Homophobia in high school

Carl got less teasing by far after coming out. When you are out and someone says, "Are you gay or something?" in a teasing sort of voice it is good to be able to say, "yes." For most people it takes the wind out of their sails.

For most people.

There were a couple of boys though who said things, under the breath sort of things. One was in Carl's Spanish class. He sat behind Carl and quietly said things like, "God hates f*gs" and "All gays should be shot."

It took a couple of weeks for Carl to tell me. The next day I was in the principal's office. She was outraged. She promised that she would talk to the kid right away and that any time anyone said anything to Carl he was to come straight into her office and she would deal with it. No one was going to bother any of her kids.

I was pleased. I told her that I had brochures from PFLAG and the GLBT youth group. Could I leave them? She said "No. If those people want to get to the kids they will have to find another way." The second it was out of her mouth you knew she wished she had not said it. She tried to say something about not allowing any materials from any groups. I sighed and did not ask her about the boy scouts. I was there to make Carl's world safer and this woman was going to help me on that.

Carl did go to her and she was never slow about responding. When two boys called him a name and threw an empty pop can in his general direction at the end of their senior year she told them that if they so much as looked sideways at him again they would have their diplommas mailed home and they would NOT be welcome in the ceremony.

When Carl was considering going to the prom with a boy (he didn't) I called to tell her that he was thinking about it and that I wanted her to know in advance so that she could do whatever she felt she needed to to make certain that it was a safe experience for him. She thanked me for giving her some advance notice.

But there was one thing that I did nothing about. I wish I had. I wish I had because Carl wanted me to.

In Spanish class all the kids had to write and give a speech. The boy who had been muttering the awful things in the beginning of the year, stood up and gave his entire speech on "Why God Hates Homosexuals."

The Spanish teacher said nothing.

It was a horrible experience for Carl, having to sit there and listen to that. He wanted to protest, to walk out. He wanted the teacher to stop it. He wanted me to do something.

I was upset.

I did nothing.

Why? There are no good reasons. I was not confident that the principal would do anything. I did not want to have a debate about freedom of speech the difference between harassment and free expression.

I knew at the time I should go to the school again, but I didn't.

I still wish I had.

Part 14


  1. Sometimes these things are just so damn hard to figure out.
    That which seems obvious and right later, just doesn't come across as that clear at the time or even if it does there are other reasons that feel big and important to us at the time.
    I have some of these kinds of things in my life. I try to use them to remind me to do the things I should.

  2. I have many parenting regrets. We all do, I'm sure. That's because we are human. There was a supportive thing I could have done for my son in 2nd grade, and I didn't. I still have regrets about that lack of help on my part, and he is now 22. I hope this one doesn't eat you up inside.


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