I read an article via the Raising my Rainbow Facebook page, titled This Gay 12-Year-Old Reveals Challenges for LGBT Youth In America. I read about his issues with an overnight school trip and immediately thought of Emma.
Back when Emma was in grade eight (which is the last year of elementary school where we live) her teachers and principal decided to have a school sleepover for the senior students. It was going to be a fun and exciting camp out in the gym. The kids would bring sleeping bags and mattresses, eat camp food, and listen to ghost stories.
Emma was wildly unpopular in grade school. Of course, being unpopular meant she missed the school yard gossip, including the latest information on the school bus. I’d pulled her off that bus and was sending her to school via the city bus, it gave both of us some peace of mind. But that also meant that when Emma’s classmate got outed as bisexual on the way to school, Emma was the last to know.
Emma’s classmate had confided in a friend she thought she could trust. Instead that friend yelled her new-found knowledge across the crowded school bus. This information spread through the school yard, the whole senior class knew within minutes of the buses arrival.
Emma’s city bus got her to the yard about ten minutes after everyone else arrived. By then the other girls were pointedly ignoring the classmate while loudly explaining why they wouldn’t sleep anywhere near her. Emma listened for a moment, just long enough to sort out what happened then marched over.
“Ignore them,” she told the classmate firmly. “You can put your sleeping bag next to mine.”
She told me this story almost as soon as she walked in the door from school. Horror and disgust radiated from her.
“Being gay or bisexual isn’t contagious. I don’t know why they’re acting like it is.”
The classmate got grounded shortly before the school sleepover and didn’t end up going. I’d like to think her mother realized how awkward the sleepover was going to be and simply kept her home but the reality was this classmate got grounded regularly. Emma and the classmate stayed friends while the girl lived in our complex, which wasn’t long; she moved before the end of the school year. And they had several sleepovers.