There are a number of authors today who are blogging in support of Standing Up Against Bullying. Carolyn and I are small small fish in the author ocean and weren't invited to join (oh dear) but I do agree with the sentiments and am joinging in with my own story.
Well actually, it's my daughter's story.
My girl is now 11 years old. She's beautiful, smart, funny as hell and obviously the apple of my eye. No... she's the entire fruit basket. She's also a tomboy who keeps her hair super short, shops in the boys department for clothes and would rather die than wear pink or be considered girlie in any way. (Her girliness is really there though, but I never point it out. Scared of spiders, loves lotions and face masks....)
In third grade she developed a little crush on a school friend. A girl school friend. Third grade. 8 years old. Yup. Innocent as pie. Sweet. Adorable in fact.
Unfortunately my sweetheart told a friend. Who told a friend. Who.... you get the idea. In no time at all kids my kid didn't know were asking her if she was a lesbian. She didn't know what a lesbian was. A friend (?) of hers said he saw her putting her hand between another girl's legs. She was devastated.
Her crush wasn't sexual. She might or might not be a lesbian. It doesn't matter. This was an eight year old with an innocent crush who was being teased and treated badly because she told a friend.
We did our best to put a stop to it. The principal at my daughter's school was amazing and within a day the rumors stopped. I don't know what he did or who he talked to but it ended. Mostly. The problem is that the words were out there. The lies had already been told.
It's come up again. My baby has been approached by kids she doesn't know and asked if she's a lesbian. Does she like girls? Her answer is to walk away. But it hurts her. It's said to diminish her and trust me, it works. She feels bad about herself. She hurts because she knows logically that sexuality is undefined and what she decides in her life is her business and hers alone. She knows it. But it's hard to believe it when someone you don't even know is in your face asking if you like pussy.
I hope the rumor dies one day and never comes back. On the other hand, my amazing child is on the cusp of discovering more about herself and who she might one day find attractive. I worry that if she does come to discover that she's gay, how much others words will hurt her. I want her to be happy and I'd support her in any way. But other kids won't. And to see the child you adore wounded because she might have feelings that someone else doesn't understand is just heart breaking.
We need to fight bullying in any and all ways we can.
Do it for the kids.