Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Homophobic Bullying Comes Home

Hubby Dearest and I question ourselves as parents on most days, and we all know I probably have the most anxiety about it. However, in one area in particular, we are proud of our efforts. Our Darling Daughter is NOT a bully. She knows that there is a zero tolerance for meanness in our house.

My zero tolerance rule got bent yesterday, though, because my teary-eyed beauty begged me NOT to call the parents of the two teens who were harassing my girl in class. Instead, I had to resort to violently cleaning our living room to assuage my anger and frustration. I did however take breaks long enough to come tell DD about my latest witty comeback for her to use "next time." It was tough; how do you come back from a snide comment and your wit does not stoop to their insulting level? What can you say to a bully that maintains your cool points and yet puts them in their place without invoking violence or being disrespectful to others?

This past weekend, Darling Daughter finally got her year-long wish; I took her to get her hair cut and she could have it as short as she wanted. Having had short hair for almost 20 years, I know the upkeep, the upsides and the downsides to having a short do. We had discussed it till it was glue, so to speak. DD did it, and I was both completely thrilled it turned out so flippin' cute and completely jealous that she was instantly the cutest short pixie cut I had ever seen. She's a classic beauty so I should have known she would pull off the pixie perfectly.

Nevertheless, the hair was definitely the main attraction for the weekend. Complements were pouring in from friends, family and, to her father and my dismay, handfuls of male teens. I have definitely stepped up my search for the perfect metal baseball bat :-). As DD has told me that as the mama my opinion doesn't matter a hill of beans, the big test,  would be DD's first day back at school.

I was shopping for cleaning supplies for the big spring clean when hubby dearest sent me the text that the school had called. DD had left her science class crying because a boy asked her if she was "going lezbo on us." ANGER bubbled up so fast in me that I might have let one of the big dirty words fly. I called DD to check on her. After telling her that the school had called, she said, "I did NOT leave class crying; I wouldn't cry over C0##!%. He's just mean!" Whew! I told her I would be home soon and that I was proud of her. DD's teacher seemed relieved as well when I told her that DD was okay and not weeping in the least. It turns out there was a girl whom DD had thought was her friend who started it with comments about CANCER and HOMOSEXUALITY. The boy, whom had been a friend as well, joined in too. Haters gotta hate, I guess. DD did tell me that they were the only negatives in a multitude of positive support from classmates. She only cried when she was afraid I would cause problems by contacting the kids' parents.

Like I said earlier, I spent the whole evening and most of last night thinking. Probably over-thinking. In addition to witty comebacks like, "No, but I might be able introduce you to someone if you're interested" and "Even if I were, I wouldn't be interested in you because you are a shallow bigot," I really thought about homophobia among teens. We have always told DD that whoever she falls in love with, it needs to be a connection of the mind and heart; gender does not matter as long as she is loved and respected.

I wasn't surprised by the research I found on the subject of homophobic bullying but was no less appalled. According to a 2009 study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, "Texas schools were not safe for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) secondary school students. In addition, many LGBT students in Texas did not have access to important school resources, such as Gay-Straight Alliances, and were not protected by comprehensive bullying/harassment school policies." 

The reports also listed the following disturbing facts in its findings:

  • Nearly all students heard "gay" used in a negative way ("that’s so gay") and about 9 in 10 heard other homophobic remarks ("fag" or "dyke") regularly at school.
  • The majority of students experienced verbal harassment (called names or threatened): just under 9 in 10 because of their sexual orientation and nearly 2 in 3 because of the way they expressed their gender.
  • Many also experienced physical harassment and physical assault: about 3 in 10 were physically harassed (pushed or shoved) because of the way they expressed their gender and nearly 1 in 4 was physically assaulted (punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) because of their sexual orientation.
A majority of students never reported this abuse either. In fact DD probably would not have told on her fellow classmates. Two brave girls who witnessed her harassment DID report it though, and for them I am thankful. Because of their concern, the teacher was able to address it, I was able to talk to our darling girl child, and we are all now very aware of some on-going teen ugliness in that class.

I have agreed not to get involved at this time because DD wants to handle this her way. She forgives and moves on much more easily than I do. I learn from her every day in every way about dignity and grace. If there is a "next time," I am in, it is on, gang way and all that other pump-you-up crap. I have a theme song playing in my head and Rockey doesn't hold a candle to this mama bear on a rampage!

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes the word tolerance is treated like a dirty word. It is the one gift every parent should give their child. Sadly you cannot teach what you do not recognize. Jealousy seems to be as much the motivator for that attack as ignorance. Darby was probably knocking everyone elses' socks off and the perptrator wanted center stage.