The first time I ever felt unsafe at school was the day my best friend told me that he was gay. We sat at the far back of the classroom, as far away from the screeching chalkboard and the saliva Mr. McFleggin sent flying each time he talked. Seated around us were the rest of our peers, all of them well versed in where to find the safest seats from the downpour. On that day, however, Mr. McFleggin had left the classroom to go fetch the school counselor because Dakota, my best friend, was crying uncontrollably. Mr. McFleggin left as I tried madly to calm my dear friend down. "Kota Cakes," I had whispered desperately, using my nickname for him in hopes that it would make him smile. He was taller, more muscular, and far too manly to be called a cake, but I always did when I wanted him to smile. Right then I needed him too. He was my rock, one of the strongest people physically and emotionally that I had every known, and seeing him break down was more than I could bare. I leaned in close, asking him to please tell me what was wrong. I 'd do anything to fix it.
My best friend looked directly into my eyes, his own completely bloodshot from his tears and what looked like days with little sleep. I saw his endless trust for me, and absolute fear. "I 'm gay," he tried to whisper. His voice, in that moment deciding to crack and project his words across the room. It left me and the rest of my classmates stunned. I wanted to laugh, and I wanted to quickly declare to everyone around us, who had heard what was obviously only meant for my ears, that he was joking. I fiercely wanted him to be joking, but the fear in his eyes and the shock registered on his face at what he had just done belayed all I needed to know. My best friend was gay, and...
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...arismatic. Instead, being gay makes a teenager a target and a victim, simultaneously painting a big, red target for anyone to take a shot at. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are targets for bullies, and unprotected by administration and policies that were designed to ensure the safety of all students, regardless of race, sex, nationality, religion, sexuality, etc. At every stage of their public high school experience, LGBT students are targeted and systematically oppressed by numerous policies and codes. Policies, created by heterosexual administration who were afraid of crime and deviance, are placing LGBT students on a direct school-to-prison pipeline. Marked by both peers and policies, it becomes impossible for an LGBT student to succeed socially or academically, and that places them on a path leading directly to the juvenile justice system.
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