This is a sad story, but it’s also hopeful. So often LGBT teens think of college as the place where they’ll finally feel free, find a niche, escape the taunting they may have dealt with in middle and high school. And to be sure, many, many kids have that precise experience. Unfortunately, sometimes anti-gay bigots manage to pass college entrance exams and go on to make life hell for gay kids there, instead of following the usual bigot route of going nowhere in life. The Philadelphia Inquirer has the story of a student at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, today, and I encourage you all to read it in its entirety:
At college, [Christopher] Jones was the tall, dark-haired boy who helped found the dance team, who knew all the words to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” who dressed up with friends like Playboy bunnies for the Halloween dance.
Think of the character Kurt from Glee, only without the tiara. And, he says, without the tolerance.
Jones’ problems started on Day One…
He made friends, he says – male and female, gay and straight. But he also made enemies. Everyone dresses up at Halloween, and Jones joined three girlfriends and a guy, sporting rabbit ears and tails.
A tormentor followed him around, calling him a faggot. He threw Jones’ rabbit ears across the room. The next day, when Jones approached a sympathetic administrator, she already knew what had happened at the dance. She’d already told the other student to apologize in person.
But what the tormentor told him, Jones recalls, was, “This school doesn’t want any change.”
Says Jones, “Clearly, I was the change.”
He’s endured bullying and taunting and several situations that read to me like outright threats. He’s a lucky one, though, in a way. He’s working on transferring to another school and actually has that option; he seems to have great parents who love and support him unconditionally; and the school where he goes seems to at least be sympathetic to what he’s experienced. Unfortunately there are lots of kids like him where the familial and school support isn’t there — think fundamentalist colleges and bible-beating parents. It truly is getting better for LGBT kids and people in general, but it’s still very uneven.