Eric Marcus

Out In Middle School. Help!

Filed By Eric Marcus | June 01, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: bisexual, GLSEN, GSA, middle school, what if someone I know is gay

I often hear from middle school and high school students who are out (so brave!), but under siege. They have no interest in hiding, but often have to pay a high price for being themselves. The girl who sent me the e-mail that follows has struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide in no small part because of the abuse that's been hurled her way. This is the first part of our correspondence, which I'll be posting on three successive Sundays.

Hi! i am a bisexual teen and i just wanted to let you know that your books have touched my life in so many ways! i have kind of always known i wasn't straight and last year i came out to my mother and close friends that i'm bisexual...

the first book i read of your was "What if someone i know is gay?" it really opened my eyes to what it's like for the other person and what is going through their mind when they find out someone that they know is in fact not straight.

in my school there is A LOT of discrimination towards homosexuality and a ton of homophobic people. once word got out i wasn't straight people started freaking out and wouldn't even go near me and called me extremely degrading names as i walked down the halls. i have been the subject of being made fun of since i can remember...i've always just been me, dreesing how i want, voicing my opinions, and being who I want to be not what society tells me i should be! but by far this has been horrible for me.

are there any things i can do to try and make people stop or even understand whats it's like for me to be hurt by them like this?
lots of thanks. --Miserable In Middle School

Dear Miserable in Middle School: It's awful that you've been treated so badly. Have any of your teachers intervened? Your school's principal?

Regarding what you can do to help change things, does your school have a GSA? Have you checked out the work that GLSEN is doing to help protect kids from discrimination and harassment at school?

I hope that you've been getting plenty of support at home from your parents. Do they know how bad things have been for you? Have they arranged for you to see a counselor? I look forward to hearing back from you.

(Ask Eric a question.)

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That really sucks to be in that position, but someone's gotta be the first generation. I remember being selectively out in high school, and it was better than being in the closet, but it isn't like what this girl describes.

I feel for her. Middle School was the same way for me. I hated it and all of "them" too.

Even if you are clueless (possible for women) and therefore non-out, Middle School / Jr. High is a miserable ordeal. A very long time ago ( before Stonewall, in a pokey Midwestern city), I felt like I had a target painted on my posterior - kick here, and tried to fit in before I realized I just never would fit in the "popular girls" pack. I think that this age is the conformist age, where one must fit into all gender stereotypes. Those who are ugly, clumsy, poor, unfashionably bright or stupid, obsessed with some hobby (ie, nerd), or unable to understand and behave "appropriately" in the pecking order - all these get it in the teeth too.

Peripubertal youth prove the existence of original sin - many kids do cruel things that they wouldn't do before or after this age.