I grew up going to a very conservative Catholic school. It wasn't exactly a safe place to be different. I started getting bullied in Kindergarten, but it was just the normal kid stuff at that point. Everyone got picked on. "Alex has a boys name!", "Alex is fat!", "Alex is a nerd!" Looking back, it was harmless, but I was a gifted student, and I took every criticism to heart. I retreated from my class, finding comfort in reading and writing. I let them call me their names and whatever, but I ignored them. I got to the point that I even ignored people who were nice to me because they usually ended up joining the heard anyway. I got to 5th grade with only one friend. I lost her soon enough too, though.
In fifth grade, I had this teacher, Mrs. A, I'll call her. Mrs. A taught us in religion class that gay people are evil. I told her I didn't believe that because my mom told me that no one could be evil just for loving another person and because my mom's friends and my aunt's friends were all awesome gay men who were really nice. Everyone assumed I was gay. People avoided me, called me new names like "faggot" and "lesbian" and "dyke". It kept going on through school. All the religion teachers I had had the same view. I lost any friends I once had because they sided with the majority. I started cutting myself as a way to express the pain I felt and make it real. I was suicidal.
It carried into high school. I had even worse teachers and students making fun of me and threatening me because I questioned their beliefs. I dared to be different. I started getting quiet again, letting them believe what they want. Every time I got into a debate, I earned a new name; abortion gets brought up, now I'm "baby killer". People thought I was some communist, atheist, extremist who hated babies, soldiers, and the American way. Kids broke into my band locker and smashed my guitar. They wrote things like "Fag" and "Fuck you!" on my locker door. They stole my homework and notes. I even had a teacher ask me if it would be ok if he killed me since I "thought abortion was ok".
I transferred to public school after my sophomore year of high school. It was the best decision of my life. I stopped cutting, I joined theatre, I found friends, I went to college and got away from my home town. My parents never knew how bad it got. I told them I transferred so I could join the gifted program at the public school. My teachers knew, but did nothing. Even the principal knew what my teacher had said to me, and did nothing but invite me to debate with him so I avoided doing it in the classroom.
I almost killed myself several times between fifth grade and 10th grade, but I didn't out of sheer will power. I know that if I hadn't transferred, I wouldn't be here right now. I still struggle with depression and self esteem issues, but I'm ok. I'm 20, happily married, and in school to be a teacher so maybe I can do something about bullying.
It feels so good to finally get that off my chest.
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