I have a bad, bad feeling, and I’m praying with all I’ve got that I’m totally out of tune on this one.
One of my students, let’s call him Sam, was pulled from CHS today, and as soon as I heard the news, I was struck with a sense of dread that I’ve not been able to shake all day.
The “official” story behind his transfer is that Sam’s parents were having too hard of a time getting him to CHS (he lives a fair distance away, and CHS can’t provide transportation), so they registered him in his town’s public high school.
My students tell another story, and their version really confirms this sick feeling I have.
Sam is openly gay. Not flamboyantly or loud-and-in-your-face gay – Sam is, in fact, a very quiet and unassuming young man – but he makes no secret of the fact of his sexuality. In fact, he made a point of coming out to me the other day. He saw my telling the “you’re a nice person, but you’re going to hell, anyway” story as an opening to tell me that the same thing happened to him, too, only he was told that he can’t go to heaven because homosexuality is a sin that can’t be forgiven. I think he wanted me to know; he understood that I am an ally (there’s evidence of my ally-hood all over the place in the form of buttons, magnets, and stickers on and around my things in the school) and I think he saw me as someone he could trust.
The reason my kids say Sam was pulled from school is because his parents are not at all okay with Sam’s being gay. Not only are they not okay with Sam’s being gay, but they seem to be under the impression that CHS encouraged this revelation in him; that it is somehow the “fault” of the school that Sam is homosexual.
I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that Sam knew this was coming and confided in his friends the reasons for it; I have no reason to doubt what they said; the story was independently confirmed by a couple of different students at a couple of different times.
My sense of dread is that this may be more than Sam can take. He told me, early in the year, that he never felt more comfortable than at CHS. The poor kid has been to five high schools in four years – I think this will make six – and I’m horribly worried that he may feel so isolated and misunderstood that he will do something to hurt himself.
I sent him an email this afternoon, telling him that even though he’s not a student in our class anymore, that doesn’t mean we’re forgetting about him. I sent him an invitation to our new class website, and I told him that if there’s anything I can do for him as an English teacher, an ally, or a friend, he needs only ask. I am desperately hoping that he finds a safe place – and some safe people – in his new school, and that he recognizes that he only has to live through the next few months until he turns 18 and gets to make choices for himself.
Still, I have to say that I will not be surprised to hear news that Sam did something drastic. I hope, with all that I have, that I’m completely wrong…