Thursday, September 24, 2009

The New York Times Magazine
Coming Out in Middle School

Note: As necessary as this story is, and in such a prestigious publication, it is decades too late for those of us who were kicked, punched, spat on, bullied and beaten...and that's just in the schoolyard or on the bus. It has nothing to do with the ineffective teachers who opted to either stay out of the situation altogether, attribute it to "typical" schoolyard bullying, or "acting out" on the part of the victim. Sad, to think a 12 or 13 y/o went home from school, pants torn, glasses broken, bloodied...only to look up the word FAGGOT in the dictionary and read the definition A BUNDLE OF STICKS.

Tragic, and too late. Much too late.
And, sadly, now the 20somethings have no respect or even social interest in those of us who paved the way for them to have their freedoms today. Perhaps "barebacking" and a resurgence of the HIV+ infection rates in the 20something demographic will cause more than a few eyes to open, and more than a few people to move into action.

What is clear is that for many gay youth, middle school is more survival than learning — one parent of a gay teenager I spent time with likened her child’s middle school to a “war zone.” In a 2007 survey of 626 gay, bisexual and transgender middle-schoolers from across the country by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (Glsen), 81 percent reported being regularly harassed on campus because of their sexual orientation. Another 39 percent reported physical assaults. Of the students who told teachers or administrators about the bullying, only 29 percent said it resulted in effective intervention.

Published: September 23, 2009