Patricia Nell Warren

Are We Doing Enough to Stop Bullying at School?

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | February 29, 2008 8:58 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, The Movement
Tags: gay bashing, homophobic bullying, Lawrence King, safe schools, Terri O'Connell

When I entered Powell County High School in 1949, the boys called me "Nellie the Horse." Back in the day, "Nellie" was understood as a generic reference to horses, like the word "Fido" for dogs. But it was also a heartless way of saying that I was big. And I was big -- a muscular chunky tomboy ranch kid who could wrestle steers and throw hay bales around. I also got straight A's (except for math). In postwar American society, a girl was not supposed to be chunky, or tomboyish, or a "brain." She was supposed to be an air-head dreamboat in a tight sweater, like every teen star we saw in the movies. Me, I looked like a cowboy even in a tight sweater.

So every weekday, when I got on the school bus at the ranch gate, the ride to town with 30 rowdy country boys and a few subdued girls was miles of misery. None of them called me a "lezzie" -- they wouldn't have known what the word meant if they heard it -- but kids knew that I was different somehow.

The teasing had started in grade school, but I didn't fight it -- just quailed inside and tried to ignore it. So it got worse. My enemies saw they could get under my skin and make me squirm. Teachers tried to be supportive by singling out my writing ability and having me read essays to the class. This made things worse -- I was jeered as "teacher's pet." When my age group reached high school, with all the adult sex and gender pressures simmering in the air, things got much worse.

At one point, I begged my parents to send me to another high school. This would have meant selling the ranch and moving out of the county, so they said forget it.

One boy on the bus, Richard, picked on me mercilessly. His family lived in a dusty little rural community 20 miles out in the puckerbrush. Richard had black hair, black leather jacket, and a chip on his shoulder about everything, including me, for some reason that I never knew. His buddies cheered him on.

The Turning Point

My parents knew about Richard. But the fact that I was a girl didn't make them extra-protective. Ranch women were expected to handle whatever came down the road, same as men. That was the cow-country code. So the morning finally came when I got on the bus with my lunch pail, and something clicked inside me, and I handled it.

"Hey, Nellie, get a horse," Richard said, or something along that line.

Instead of shrinking back into myself, becoming that tiny ball of loneliness and pain, I lunged at Richard and nailed him with a right to the nose, like I had seen Gary Cooper do in the movies. Richard was taken by surprise and stumbled backwards. I pushed the advantage with a few more inexpert Hollywood-inspired boxer punches, plus a thump or two with the heavy metal lunch box. If I was a cowboy, by golly, I was going to fight like one.

Nursing a bloody nose, Richard retreated.

After that, even the bigger taller boys didn't risk taking me on. Richard was a slow learner, so I had to beat him up a couple more times. For good measure I tore his shirt. This broke his heart -- his family were poor and the shirt had cost them.

The shirt evidently sparked a complaint to the principal, who called my parents. I don't know what Mom and Dad said back to the principal, but they didn't scold me for fighting on the bus.

The teasing stopped. After a discreet interval, the boys started showing some grudging respect. From there to being elected class vice president took a couple more years, but it happened.

Cops Without Badges

Today, every time that homophobic school bullying hits the news -- capped by the recent murder of 15-year-old Lawrence King at an Oxnard junior high school -- I think back to 1949. That moment when I threw the punch was a turning point of my life. If I hadn't taken a stand, I might have stayed a tiny ball of misery.

Bullying has been part of school life forever. Teasing targeted anything imaginable, from race or religion to the size of your ears. But bullies always pushed extra-hard on any nonconformity on sexual orientation or gender. Today that push of theirs has gotten horrendously blatant. As the LGBT rights movement grows in national influence, it's no accident that school bullying has gotten so bad. The bullies know they've been given the job of morals police without badges. Church leaders and conservative politicians don't give a damn that kids like Lawrence King are killed. They actually oppose the passage of "safety at school" laws protecting LGBT students, because they know the bullies act as a deterrent to coming out at school. And the bullies know they will often get away with their crimes.

For the last decade, activists have worked to stop the rising tide of bullying. They pass laws, launch school policies and programs, do counseling and establish zero tolerance. Cops patrol the hallways, confiscate weapons and arrest offenders. Courts can and do issue restraining orders against bullies.

But there's one thing we haven't done yet. We haven't done enough to help the bullied student deal with the problem effectively in person.

No matter how protective your school or community might be, the moment often comes when you're alone with your tormentors. The courts aren't there to help you. The principal isn't there. Your friends aren't there. You have to handle things yourself, in the moment. What do you do?

I don't have an easy answer to this question. But we need to do more -- far more -- to educate our children about how to handle bullying on their own, if they have to. And it's important to nip harassment in the bud, instead of letting it drag on for years, like I did. When a student has endured years of torment, and slid all the way down that slippery slope into complete loss of self-esteem, into going home and committing suicide, it's too late. When the gun is finally aimed at your head, as it was with Lawrence King, it's too late.

Ideally, that education comes from the student's family. It's a question whether Lawrence King got that kind of support at home. Many details of his case are still confidential, because he was a minor. But according to the news media, he was a foster child. So evidently his family gave up his custody, which is how he got to the group home where he was living. I've seen reports that the staff at the group home were accepting, and encouraged him to be himself with his passion for girl's clothes, makeup and jewelry.

But when he took these passions to school, he took them into a volatile environment where some students were not accepting. Evidently King was at a loss how to handle it. Indeed, he had dropped out of one school because of bullying, before coming to E. O. Green Middle School, where he was shot to death.

At some point in the bullying history, if King had known how to come up with a big move and get the upper hand, the tragedy could have been averted. How could he have done this?

I chose the move of a physical fight. This tactic can work, but I don't recommend it today because you can get arrested for fighting at school, even though you do it in self-defense. And I was lucky none of the boys on the bus pulled knives on me. Those were the heydays of American knife culture! In the big cities, ghetto boys carried switchblade knives. But those country boys who went to school with me all carried jack knives that you could skin a steer with.

Sunshine's Move

So the big move by a bullied kid is safer if it's nonviolent. But it can still work brilliantly if it's instinctive and smart.

One of my favorite stories about a big move comes from Remember the Titans. The film is based on a 1960s true story about a Southern high-school football team and desegregation. Into the uneasy mix of black and white boys came a new student. Ron "Sunshine" Bass had long blond hair, a hippie look and a "different" air. He was standing on the sidelines, holding a football, while his dad pitched him to the coach as a good quarterback. The team were out on the field, and the minute they saw Sunshine's long hair, the blacks and whites united in their jeering.

The white football captain, Bertier, yelled, "Hey fellas! Look at that fruitcake!"

Sunshine seemed to ignore the remark. But the moment Bertier turned his back, Sunshine cooly threw a long pass. His aim was so good that the ball hit Bertier right between the shoulder blades. As Bertier spun around angrily, one of the black players instantly got the meaning of the move and grinned. "Yeah, a fruitcake, huh?" he told his captain sarcastically.

That move was how Sunshine started holding his ground on what the team suspected was his sexual orientation.

Terri's Move

Another good non-violent strategy was found by race-car driver Terri O'Connell, who announced her gender realignment in 1998.

Terri grew up in a well-known racing family in Mississippi and was labeled a male at birth. Through childhood, as Terri got started in go-kart racing, she merely looked frail and androgynous because of health reasons. But as adolescence came on, her body began looking more and more suspiciously feminine -- to the point where redneck kids in that small town began harassing Terri mercilessly. As Terri tells it in her forthcoming autobiography Dangerous Curves, she desperately resorted to a masquerade -- taping the breasts flat, deepening her voice, wearing loose-cut unisex youth fashions to hide her curves -- all to maintain the teen boy look.

But the best way to keep from being attacked at school, Terri found, was to excel at racing. Race-car drivers are folk heroes in the South. The trophy for national go-kart champion already sat on her shelf. Her family supported her racing career, and even tried to make sense of the emerging gender situation.

So Terri was the kamikaze pilot, the hot shoe -- and did it with a vaguely girlish David Cassidy look. For a time, the school bullies laid off, and Terri actually became one of the popular kids at school, and a figure in Southern racing. She went on to win national champion in midget cars and sprint cars as well. By the early '90s, however, as Terri turned 20, the adult woman's face and frame had become impossible to disguise. Her doctor identified her as an XXY. She realized that she had to be true to herself and begin living as a woman.

Christine's Move

Yet another good story comes from a Mexican-American student I met while doing volunteer teaching in Los Angeles Unified School District. Christine told me how she handled her East L.A. gang problem by using words.

Ordinarily, nobody leaves a gang. You get beaten up when you're jumped in. After that, you're in for life. If you try to leave, your homies believe that you might rat on them to the police, so they beat you up again...maybe even try to kill you. Christine had grown up in this gang, but now, as a teen, she had developed physically into an individual who actually looked like a boy. In an Latino community where girls are expected to look very feminine, even her homies had started bullying her, calling her a "freak" and a marimacha. Some of these boys attended the same high school that she did, so she had dropped out.

When I met her, she was 17 and looking to change her life. She'd enrolled in a dropout program, had come out as a lesbian to the other students, was dealing with alcoholism -- "before I get killed or wind up in prison," she said. She wanted to go to college, become an educator, and help kids. But she had to deal with the gang thing, or she might have to move to another state to avoid retaliation.

So Christine made her move. She gathered her homies, took a deep breath... and made a speech. Christine was a passionate speaker -- I had seen her in action at a scholarship awards banquet. I wish I had been a fly on the wall for that speech. She dared to open her heart and talk about her dream to help struggling kids from Mexican families like they all were. She captured those hardened boys with her passion, and assured them that they had nothing to fear from her in future. By the time she got done, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. They let her walk away.

Later, Christine graduated from college, get her M.A. and is teaching in Los Angeles today.

Often I ask myself how young people like Sunshine, Terri and Christine managed to get the upper hand in those turning-point moments. How did I ever manage to get it?

Beyond Acceptance

The support at home was important -- especially because I'd learned that my talents and abilities were respected. My parents were Republicans, i.e., not exactly pillars of liberal understanding -- so they weren't too happy with the fact that I wasn't very ladylike. But they didn't harass me about it either. After all, tomboys were useful around the ranch. That measure of acceptance was all I needed from them.

So when my tormentors made an issue of my being big and strong, I steam-rolled them with my gift of strength. Sunshine steam-rolled them with his gift of being a good football player. Terri steam-rolled her tormentors by winning races. Christine had a gift with words -- in the moment, this was how she steam-rolled her gang. In other words, the very talents and special attributes that we have, can give us the personal power and sense of personal worth for making the big move on the bullies. If someone else recognizes our gift, that power stays in us -- we can reach down and find it when we need it.

So yes, let's pass better laws. Let's compel more school districts to fight bullying and protect their LGBT students. Let's get the courts and the cops and the politicians on our side. But families need to do more for their LGBT children than just support them in self-acceptance. They need to let their kids know that they actually possess the power to stop the bullying and to inspire more acceptance in others. If families fail to provide this life-saving education, then communities and schools and counselors and LGBT youth organizations need to step in and do more for the potential victims.

In that moment of facing the tormentors alone, every LGBT student who manages to make that brilliant move will be one less tragic statistic in the news.

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Support from parents is not just nice it is necessary. I didn't have it from my parents and after six years of being bullied i sent a student one grade over me to the hospital for calling me cross eyed one too many times. The school stood by their line of crap and told me i should have just ignored it, but i put a stop to it Alex had a fractured skull and possible brain damage. I talked to a social worker who defended what i had done. That was in the middle school that fed Santana High school the school where in 2001 Andy Williams killed a couple of students for bullying him. in Thirty two years they still didn't listen until Andy solved the problem his way.

In 1987 my daughter was being bullied for being partially sighted. I was there to support my child. We scheduled a meeting with the principal and her home room teacher. The principal wouldn't promise the students in question would be dealt with. I told the principal that my daughter had my support to use as much force as it takes to make them stop. I told them both i had been through the same thing and my daughter was going to make it stop even if it meant the had to send one of them to the hospital. I finished up the discussion by adding as i got up from the table "we don't count the knives in the house and she knows we will back her up" The Principal turned white, an assembly was held at the end of that week and the school instituted the first zero tolerance policy for bullying in the state. Thankfully she didn't have to send anyone to the hospital, had she i would have been there to back her up and see to it never had to happen again.

These days Teachers don't want to look for the warning sighs and school officials don't want to do their part in punishing students who bully their peers. Perhaps part of the answer is to seek justice after school People who do violence only understand violence. They only respect power and people who put them in their place.

Parents can use the law to make schools conform most counties have continuation schools for those students who do not understand anything but bullying. There is always home schooling which is always a better alternative then the low quality public schools that keep turning out students that can't find the US on a globe.

That was a very good post
Thank you for reminding why i don't take any crap from anybody.

Take care

Ha, far from it. If I may say so, schools are a breeding ground for homophobia more so than any other place, even churches.

Patricia, thank you for sharing your thoughts. They must have been painful for you, because I felt your pain as I read them. I identified with something from each story. It has been said that love is touching souls. You just touched mine. Be well and stay true...

battybattybats battybattybats | March 1, 2008 10:42 AM

Sometimes not much will help, though i did have one success.

Being a book loving sport hating effeminate long haired non conformist didn't work too well through a succession of schools in rural towns.

I studied martial arts which i enjoyed but being able to fight back didn't help the problem. Once I showed I could defend myself there was a succession of kids willing to try to be the one to take me down rather than being dettered. I was attacked with a chisel, then a knife and then a ute, yep a utility truck, a kid from school in the passanger seat and his father or older relative, I never found out, tried to run me down as I rode home on my bike, they followed me up onto the footpath as I ducked accross the street corner and hammered on the door of a nice little old lady for help who gave me tea and biscuits till I was sure they had given up and were long gone. Being nimble and lucky was what kept me from harm. It didn't stop my posessions being constantly destroyed, being spat on, having chewing gum jammed into my long hair etc.

I ended up becoming a pacifist on principle so when the largest school bully attacked me at my third highschool in a new town and started punching me I refused to hit back. He kept demanding I punch back and I refused. Sixteen punches to my left cheekbone. If I hadn't learnt to roll my neck with punches in martial arts that would have caused a lot more than the bruise I was left with. Finally another kid the same age as the bully stepped in, pointing out he wasn't going to get the satisfaction. Delay enough for me to get away. I knew the administration would normally turn a blind eye to this sort of thing so i marched in, demanded to see the principle and demanded the student be expelled or I would be calling the police, charging the boy with assault and suing the school for breach of their duty of care. That was my punch and it hit. That boy was expelled. Still the rest of the teasing continued. I heard he's now in jail for assault 16 years later, the poor bastard never learned, apparently his father used to beat him up so he passed the violence on to those smaller than him so he could feel better.

At the schools i went to they tried counselling the victim, suggesting the victim conform more, be like everyone else, don't stand out and stand up for themselves. The latter didn't work for most kids I knew. Eloquent speeches fell on deaf ears and unless they were blessed with hidden strength violence would often backfire.

What I think is needed is a zero tolerance to bullying, immediate counselling of the perpetrator and a welfare investigation into their family (as I've heard that many bullies are victims of abuse).

The social acceptance of bullying needs to be stamped out, the psychological weakness of the bully needs to be emphasised till it becomes common knowledge. The anti car-hoon camapin in Australia where show-off drivers speeding etc are ridiculed as having tiny penises seemed to work quite well so I'd suggest something similar in schools for bullying and teasing.

Thanks for sharing this awful story. This kind of extreme bullying happens all too often. Which is why I suggested, in my earlier story "After Lawrence King, Who's Next," that zero tolerance should be extreme too.

I feel strongly that bullies -- and cliques who support bullies and egg them on -- must be expelled on the first offense, and put in special school programs where they (and their families) must receive counseling as a condition of graduation.

Bullying is a lot like spousal abuse. The perpetrator (and there are some females who do it too) feels a powerful sense of entitlement about his or her "right" and "duty" to batter the other party. Counseling and therapy doesn't have a very great success rate...the attitude is very deep rooted. Even when the perps do jail or prison time, and get counseled in prison, they often get out and go right back to battering again.

Thanks to everybody who shares their awful stories about school gullying there. America can't call herself "The Land of the Free" until this appalling practice is rooted out of our schools.

Link to "After Lawrence King, Who's Next?" can be found at the top of Project Highlights.

At the schools i went to they tried counselling the victim, suggesting the victim conform more, be like everyone else, don't stand out and stand up for themselves. The latter didn't work for most kids I knew. Eloquent speeches fell on deaf ears and unless they were blessed with hidden strength violence would often backfire.
Typical mind control tactic blame the victim and disarm then... force the victim to be a mindless droid like the rest of the little mindless droids in public schools.

They tried that same mind control crap on me, i threw it right back at them.

Glad you survived your ordeal...

Take care

My bullying story doesn't have a happy ending, for I didn't stand up to the bully. I couldn't, not without getting myself seriously hurt, or killed.

Kim had his clique, as well as a family that held to the old fueding ways, you take on one, you take on them all. There were stories in school about how his family always stuck together, and if you fought one, you had to fight them all. I tried ignoring him, playing along with him, everything but fighting, because I was a pacifist, and also knew it would only end badly for me if I did. I was small, underweight, sickly, and though fairly strong, not very agile. I tried hard to hide what I was, denying it even to myself, but I guess something showed through, something marked me as 'different'.

The school and teachers knew what was going on, but this was the early 70's, in small town Texas, and some of the teachers actually egged it on, especially the gym coaches. I had no real friends in school, which made me an easy target.

I grew to hate people in general. I still carry the scars from that time, not trusting people easily, finding it hard to get close to anyone, being shy and reserved. Even after years of therapy the hurt is still there.

Some people see bullying as a rite of passage, a part of growing up that a person goes through when growing up. They do not see the harm in it, and think that kids are just being kids, and this is something that they do. It is this attitude that needs to be changed. It isn't just LGBT youth that suffers, it is anyone who stands out as different or alone. It has just gotten worse now, more violent and more likley to end with a knife or gun, rather than just fists.

Our culture needs to change, parents need to get involved and learn to teach their children early on that bullying is not okay. It isn't just children from broken or disfunctional families that bully. It happens across all social strata and enviroments. Even "good kids" bully others.

Laws and policies can help, but there has to be a sea change in our culture which gives the message that bullying is not okay. It is not just a "kids will be kids" sort of thing. It is a symptom of a society that punishes those who are different or stand out in some way. The change has to come from the families of both the victims and the perpetrators of bullying.

I believe that teasing leads to bullying, which in turn leads to violence, and this leads to the murder of gender variant people. I'm not certain if the following post is appropriate, but this is an important topic that must be addressed.

Mercedes | February 27, 2008 |
If my previous post seemed a little scattered and emotional, there’s a reason for it. The first trans community function I ever attended was a TDoR function, as was the first event I ever MCed outside a support group. I’ve been sensitive to transphobic violence at every step, and my own transition began with violence. But seeing the settings for it shift to schools was not something I was prepared for.

At or around November 20th of every year, the transgender community commemorates a day of remembrance (TDoR) for transgender folk who have died as a result of transphobic or homophobic violence. Since that memorial, fifteen more homicides involving transgender victims have occurred:

Sally (Salvador) Camatoy, Dubai, 19nov.07
Kellie Telesford, London, 21nov.07
Elly “Sayep” Susanna, Jakarta, nov07 (during a police raid)
Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz, Santiago, Chile, 28dec07
Patrick Murphy, Albuquerque, NM, 08jan08
Stacy (Jarrell) Brown, Baltimore, 08jan08
Fedra, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, 22jan08
Three unnamed transgender persons reported (plus seven gay men), Iraq, prior to 24jan08 (shiite squads cleansing campaign — these are missing, presumed dead)
unnamed, Detroit, 04feb08
Sanesha Stewart, New York, 09feb08
Lawrence King, Oxnard, CA, 12feb08
Simmie Williams, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 22feb08
Adolphus Simmons, Charleston, SC, 22feb08

Not all of these murders were necessarily related to being transgender. Some of them, we’ll never be able to know the motives, or even confirm that anything has happened. In some cases, victims also worked in the sex trade (Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz, possibly Simmie Williams and allegedly Sanesha Stewart — although Stewart may have been simply portrayed as such by New York police), which has additional dangers of its own. But in many of these, the transphobia pieces would seem fit the puzzle thus far.

We do have to be careful not to co-opt these people and the significance of their lives. They are individuals — some, unfortunately, with stories that will never be told. I am concerned that a certain amount of capitalization might happen with King, especially. Whatever we do, we must respect their memories and wishes when we know them, give respectful space when we don’t, and stand shoulder to shoulder with any related communities (i.e. drag communities, schools, GLBT and Gay-Straight Alliances, and sex workers) affected by their passing, rather than attempt to trump them.

On the other hand, the threat of transphobic violence is very real, and the issue needs to be raised, if justice is ever to be done for some. Traditionally, there have been an average of 16 or 18 people added every year to the list of names we remember at TDoR. With potentially 15 people murdered in three months, we are seeing both an increase in the reporting of such violence, and an increase in the violence itself. Additionally concerning, several on the list are transgendered youths. This is serious, and the media must know. Awareness is one of the first few tools we have to try to prevent this from happening again.

The second is non-discrimination law, and this is why we need The Matthew Shepard Act in the U.S. and a counterpart in Canada. Although such laws’ effectiveness less as a deterrent and more for creating awareness, it’s more than nothing. It also sends a message that this situation is unacceptable. In an age where having a penis is still widely considered justification for murder in society, a hate crime classification can go some distance to change the use of panic defenses.

One Canadian activist has in the past held a formal day of celebration of transgender lives, on March 20 (although that would put it right before Easter weekend this year), for transfolk, be they with us or lost to us. I do think this is a wonderful idea. We need to mourn, but we should not have to spend our days in mourning. Whether for those listed above, for those in our history (parts 1, 2 and 3 of 6), for appreciation of those in our support groups who hold us up and give us advice, for support of transyouth, for the success stories that we look up to (MTF and FTM) – or just to remember that transition is not an automatic death sentence, nor should it be — I think we do need something like this now.

I think it’s time my partner and I had that community BBQ we’ve been talking about….

(crossposted to Dented Blue Mercedes)

2 Responses to “Counting the Cost”

stellewriter on February 28th, 2008 1:51 pm Thanks for the audit. It seems at best that is all that it is worth to those in general society. I suppose in comparison to a jumbo jet going down and a few hundred deaths, a few trannies means nothing. How many look at the front page news and barely take a breath as they turn to the comics or stock page. In all of the working of the HRC and the media there is no sense of loss.

I am afraid that this will continue until we are slaughtered in teh day light for all to see. Some how we need to demonstrate ourselves in number and with resolve. I do not believe that will happen as long as we continue to in fight and trash each other. As long as we do not fully show appreciation for our differences and individuality.
As long as we fight amongst ourselves, these tragedies are in vain and mean nothing.

We are starting to see he community come together in protest, and I hope to grow and stand with unique identity. Not as a segment of some larger agenda, but one of our own. The start was at Stonewall, perhaps it is time to stand and shout!

For us the cost is everything, and it is worth the sacrifice. Let us not waste that which has already been given, or that which tragicaly has been taken.

Shari Miller on February 29th, 2008 10:38 am
I, personally, have two passions in life: the first is doing what I can to help trans kids through the organizations that support them. I am convinced unequivocably that addressing the issue in childhood leads to a better quality of life and less emotional baggage.

My second passion is putting an end to the violence to the gender variant community. With me it’s personal. I had a dear close friend who was a trans woman who was gunned down in her own apartment in Los Angeles in August 2004. She had her life ahead of her when she was murdered at age 24.

I wanted to have a TGDOR on a large scale that would have drawn national attention. The forum I had in mind will shortly be closing for two years for a major renovation. So that idea is out.

We need an event that will serve notice on the public that the murder of our gender variant community will no longer be tolerated. It’s fine to have many small Days of Remembrance all over the USA and the world, but we need one that will draw media attention to it that can not be ignored. It needs to include the reading of the names of all the gender variant people who were murdered, when, where, and, especially, how. One can not help but be moved to tears when one reads of people being stabbed 90 times. One can not help but be moved to tears when one reads of the murder of a gender variant child by her father. This would be similar to the reading of names at the site of the World Trade Center.
This needs to be done somewhere in November 2008. We really need to do this, somehow.

Back in the 1930’s, if someone had stood up and said, “Hell, no. We aren’t going to take this violence against us any more,” perhaps the lives of six million people would have been saved.

There are almost 400 names now on the list of murdered gender variant people.

I believe the time has arrived for us to speak up, and say, “Hell, no. We aren’t going to take this violence against us any more.”

We really need to do this before it’s too late.

My girlfriend has a similar experience.
except her father use to just beat on her for no reason other then to keep her on guard. ....
he was an ex marine and semi pro wrestler. She couldn't fight back...She also lived in a small town just outside of San Antonio...

I cry when i think of those and other scars that are on her body and mind from the abuse she was subjected to when she was young...

I told her If i was there i would have taken care of those mean people even if it had lead to me being in jail... It's wrong..

in the old days you could take care of them by tossing a hair dryer in the shower when they were getting washed up... Unfortunately since the late 80's and GFI you can't do that anymore.

I guess the hatred of bullies shows....

Take care

Lots of flash backs in this post. I posted about my first boyfriend and how the bullying I'd endured ended the relationship.

Thanks Patricia.

robert Koenig | March 2, 2008 9:16 PM

I just waned to let you know, Ms Warren, that your book The Front Runner saved my life. In 1982 living in a very small oil town in central california, I came across the book in our local library. I don't know HOW it came to be there, with the small town being what it was, but it was there and it saved my life. I didn't know what it meant to be gay but knew that it hurt when people called me names, but I want to let you know that I credit the book as the one thing that gave me hope and let me know that I wasn't alone. Thank you for writing it, and the follow ups.

My utmost respect and admiration,

Robert Koenig Jr

NoOneYouKnow | March 3, 2008 6:37 PM

It's not just LGBT kids. I'm a straight white guy who's still carrying around the scars 30+ years later. The main bully in my life was my father. He conditioned me never to fight back. Once the kids at school figured that out, it was a free-for-all. The really shocking part for me in retrospect was the teachers. Of course the gym teachers took part, but some of the regular teachers as well. People love to take out their aggression (and guilt, and bigotry, and self-loathing, etc.) on someone who won't or can't fight back, and if it creates some nasty kind of social solidarity, so much the better for the bullies, I guess. Congrats on punching out Richard. Physically, I can handle myself pretty well now, but mentally, I'll always be the bullied kid. You saved yourself.