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**Trigger warnings: name-calling, bullying, transphobia, and homophobia

Hi, my name is Avery, I am 11 years old and I’d like to share my story with you about my experience in my school. A friend and classmate of mine who is a boy was being silly and joking about wearing a pink tutu somewhere. My teacher reacted quickly by talking to my class about how it is wrong to be transgender or gay. She said people like that are mentally ill and they don't know how sick they are. She said we need to pray for them. She also said it was like having depression, something that can change and should be fixed. I sat there at my desk thinking, did she really just say that? I tried to hold back my tears. After a bit, but what felt like forever, I got up to use the restroom. I felt like everyone was staring at me because I was starting to cry. Once I got there I locked myself in the stall and started crying. I repeatedly told myself there is nothing wrong with me. While I was in there I was trying to stay quiet so the people walking in and out wouldn't hear me. I finally got up to wash my face and my teacher pulled me aside. She said something like "Why are you so upset? You should already know how morally wrong it is to be trans or gay and that it will lead you to hell." I was so afraid and not sure what to say back to her. Right after that was our school’s talent show. I was already late, so I went to sit with the rest of my class. Everyone was asking where I was and why I looked so upset. I just told them all I didn't want to talk about it. As I sat there I watched my teacher and the principal whispering to each other as they glanced back at me, so I knew they were talking about me. That made me feel really uncomfortable. I wanted to leave school early, but I was too anxious and scared to speak to the teacher to ask to call my mom.

When my mom picked me up at the end of the day I burst into tears as soon as we left the parking lot. I was so upset and scared by the time I got home I was throwing up. I have never been that afraid in my life. That was the worst day I can remember. I was so scared I was going to hell and that I was a very bad person.

The next day we went to the Capitol building in Topeka for Equality Day. I got to meet Laura Kelly and hear about the non-discrimination executive order (which states that schools do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, veteran status, or any other legally protected classification)  she signed and that started to make me feel a little better. I also got introduced to the GLSEN Kansas Chapter who ended up helping me get out of this very bad situation. 

As soon as we got home, I realized I had school the next day and I started shaking and throwing up again. My mom also told me that she’d do whatever she could to make me feel safe. As soon as she said that I felt so much better and didn’t throw up anymore. I am lucky to have my mom who stayed by my side through the whole thing. My mom was able to sign a lease to a new house in the Wichita Public School district and enrolled me in a new school so I never have to step foot in that school again. I love my new school and teacher! I am so much happier now that I feel safe and welcomed being who I really am and not having to hide it. I feel lucky to have the support that many others don't have. I don't know what I would have done without them.

 

As I’m headed back to school, I want to tell other students that they deserve to hear that they are perfect the way they are. They deserve a parent or guardian who will advocate for them when they are told they are a monster for being who they are in schools. They deserve people like GLSEN Kansas to help. They deserve a soccer team like mine that showed up to support me while I spoke to the district. They deserve schools that advocate for their happiness, safety, and being welcomed for who they are. They deserve policies to be put in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen to other students like it happened to me  

I hope sharing my story helps with all the kids who are unable to share theirs. 

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did different people in Avery’s life take action in allyship to support her?
  • What are personal action steps that you could take to support students like Avery at your school?
  • What are different ways that your GSA or your school can provide supports to prevent things like this happening to other students? 
Resources: 
GLSEN Chapters 
Know Your Rights at School! 
Mental Health Supports