Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to School: You Don't Have to Take It

This month the Queer Etsy Team is presenting our personal tales from school to offer hope for LGBT students returning to school with trepidation. May they learn from us that there is always someone out there who understands and supports them... Today's post comes to us from John Tozzi of Galleria di Giani.

photo by Dan Bass

You Don’t Have To Take It

This year, many of you will be starting high school or college. For those starting high school, the decision on whether to be out or not is never an easy one. Some of you might have seen the struggles a character like Kurt faced on Glee. Although a fictional character, his experiences are quite real for a number of us. For some of us, it was even worse.

For those starting college, while you might feel comfortable being out since you are away from home, incidents like the Tyler Clementi story might give you pause.

For both groups, those starting high school, and those starting college, you have one advantage that I never had.

You don’t have to take it.

I was in junior high and high school in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Back then, “bullying” wasn’t really a term that was used widely, if at all. Parents and teachers gave it all kinds of names trying to excuse it, ignore it, spruce it up and make it presentable. It was referred to as things like “rough-housing” or “horsing around”, and excused in the worse possible way. Those of you who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s will recognize these words:

“Boys will be boys.”

It’s amazing how many things could so easily be swept under the rug with those four little words. And, to add insult to injury, if you complained, then you were a baby or a tattletale. These were somehow worse things to be than a bully. Can you imagine?

And, if those four words weren’t bad enough, if you dared complain, you only set yourself up for the other cringe-inducing platitude:

“It will make a man out of you.”

Oh yes, that’s what we were told.

Somehow, getting hit, getting knocked down, getting pushed around, having our personal effects taken and tossed about in a game of Keep Away, being insulted, being called names, being teased, getting knocked into lockers, having stuff thrown at us, all these things and more (of which I endured them all, and then some) were somehow supposed to prepare us for adulthood.

I’m not exactly sure why this was thought to prepare us for adulthood. After all, adults aren’t supposed to act this way. At your job, are people allowed to push you against the wall, throw things at you, take your stuff and play Keep Away, or any of the other actions described above? Of course not. If they acted that way, they’d be thought of as children.

So, if children do it, it makes a man out of you. If a man does it, though, he’s acting like a child?


As a kid, you can’t explain the logic in that. Parents will just look at you like you have three heads and are speaking Martian.

Thankfully, we are now living in different times.

Bullying finally has a real name. It is not looked upon favorably any longer. There are no more excuses of “boys will be boys”. It’s now looked upon as a good thing to report it. There are even anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying laws in some cities and states.

If you are a victim, you don’t have to suffer in silence any longer. You can report it. If your teacher won’t take you seriously, try the principal. If they won’t take you seriously, try your parents. Keep reporting it until someone hears you, and something is done. If someone is doing it to you, chances are they are also doing it to other people, or will, if they are not stopped.

Your high school and college experiences don’t have to be about suffering. They should be the time when you grow and learn about the person you are, and start to settle into the person you are becoming….comfortably, proudly, and bully-free.

You don’t have to take it.

If you are being bullied and in need of help, there are many groups available to choose from:
  • First, if you are in crisis or considering suicide, please call the
    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    or the Trevor Project at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).
  • You can find more detailed steps on finding help at
  • You can find a list of helpful resources at (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) .
  • To find a local source of help, the Safe Schools Coalition has a list of Community Based GLBTQ Youth Support Groups and Safe Schools Coalitions.

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