This is the second in a series about my son’s recent experience with bullying at school.
Sam’s teachers these last four years have been amazing; they have addressed bullying whenever they see or hear about it, and worked hard to build a culture of kindness in their classrooms. The administration has taken action to discipline children who have been cruel. And yet punishing bullying after the fact is not the same as preventing it from happening in the first place.
For four years, we have asked the school administration to do the work necessary to prevent Sam from being harassed—to implement a school-wide bullying prevention program specifically around gender identity. We have connected them with anti-bullying trainers, directed them to age-appropriate curriculum, shared studies showing the effects of acceptance on health and mental health outcomes for LGBT kids.
For four years the administration has felt our pain, sympathized, told us how Sam adds valuable diversity to their school community, said how grateful they are that we’ve brought our concerns to their attention.
And for four years, they’ve done nothing about it.
When I learned of the recent escalation of bullying against Sam, I thought, with dismay and resignation: “It’s time for yet another talk with the school.” Then I thought, with dismay and resignation: “We’ve had these talks before, so many times, and here we are, with things getting worse.”
At what point do we call it quits? Find another school? Is there a school where kids who are as different as Sam is don’t get bullied?