Texas schools are required by law to protect students from bullying, ever since the Texas Legislature passed a bullying and cyber-bullying bill in 2011. As part of the KERA Yearbook project, here are three stories about bullying from three high school students who have experienced it.
LGBTQ Kids On The Front Lines
For a recent essay assignment, Meosha Farris stood in front of her class and asked for a little tolerance from those obsessed with sin and punishment.
“I would like people to stop picking out homosexuality as being the number one sin,” she wrote.
As Meosha progressed through elementary and middle school, she became more interested in dressing like a boy. Now a senior at Polytechnic High School in Fort Worth, she is quick to tell people that she’s gay. In a religious community, she feels judged. But she’s not the type to take this bullying quietly.
“It hurts my feelings and makes me mad because everybody sins every day,” she said.
LGBTQ students have been historically a target for bullies, and Polytechnic has clubs and resources to help them. Messages against bullying are often read over the school’s loud speaker—a reflection of the alarm that many educators feel since some high-profile suicides of bullied gay kids.
Schools Safer Than Home?
Another senior at Polytechnic shied away from the bullying label, even when hearing what most people would think of as hate speech. “I’ve never really got bullied in my life. Some people get offended when they’re called a f—-t, but I don’t let it phase me. I just keep going,” he said.
We’re not sharing his name, because he says he hasn’t told his father that he’s gay. He fears that his father will get angry.
“He asked me if I was gay, and I told him no. But he should know, though. By the way I act and talk and socialize with other people,” he said.
Vicious Taunts From Little Kids
Margaret Guitierrez says she faced constant, brutal teasing when she was younger for being chubby. Her teachers stayed out of it, until she fought back after a kid insulted her dad.
“At the time he had been taken into jail, And so whenever they were picking on me they brought that up,” she said.
She felt like she couldn’t stand it.
“I swung. And he had to get five stitches in his eyebrow.”
The school asked Margaret to write an apology letter.
Margaret says the bullying eventually stopped. “By the time I got to eighth grade, people were growing up, and realizing that it was wrong,” she said.
Margaret, now a senior at Dubiski Career High school in Grand Prairie, is proud of surviving childhood bullying. She recently ran into the boy she’d fought with and sent to the emergency room.
“He came and apologized to me,” she said. “It was a little late, but it was still nice that he did.”