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Double Standards Don’t Help Anyone Succeed

, , , , , | Learning | August 22, 2021

I was in fourth or fifth grade when this happened. I’m a girl, and at this time, I was also dealing with what would later be diagnosed as high-functioning autism. As a result, I had a really hard time interacting with my classmates. I did my best to learn what kind of behaviour was appropriate in different situations, but I found it to be very difficult, because the rules kept changing around depending on the individuals who were involved. 

One bright winter day, my classmates and I were playing King of the Hill on a big snowdrift in the schoolyard. The class bully kept winning, and I found it unfair, because he was so much bigger and stronger than the rest of us, and I thought he should give someone else a go instead of just kicking off anyone who tried to make an attempt to get to the top. This inevitably escalated into a fight between me and the bully, because I thought that the same rules applied to all children and had not yet grasped that girls were not supposed to fight. 

We ended up in an empty classroom with our teacher. It’s important to note that we were both chubby children, but [Class Bully] was tall and broad while I was short and squat. I’d been bullied for being fat for years, while no one had ever dared to say anything to [Class Bully].

Teacher: “Can you please tell me what happened?

Class Bully: “[My Name] said I was fat and to get off the hill!”

Me: “That’s not what happened! I told him he should let someone else have a chance to be King! I just said he’s as big as two people and it wasn’t fair!”

[Class Bully] started crying, which was usually what he did when he was being called out for his behaviour and there was an adult present.

Teacher: “[My Name], I’m very disappointed in you. You know bullying isn’t acceptable at this school!”

In fact, bullying was very much acceptable at this school; it just depended on who was doing the bullying.

Me: “But I wasn’t bullying him.”

Teacher: “You can’t go around calling other children fat. That sort of thing hurts. I’m going to have to call your parents about this.”

Me: “I didn’t say he was fat; I said he was big!”

Teacher: “It means the same thing, and it’s very hurtful. You need to be more considerate of others, [My Name]. See how sad you’ve made [Class Bully]?”

Me: “But the other children call me fat all the time; how is that any different? Why am I not allowed to say it?”

Teacher: “Well, we can’t always say everything we think. Now, apologize to [Class Bully] and then go home and think about what you’ve done.”

In my mind, I hadn’t done anything different than what the other kids were already doing to me without consequences, but in my little mental flowchart of human interaction, I carefully noted down, “Other children may be mean to me, but I may not be mean to them.”

This, and a hundred other little incidents like it, led to me, a few years later, being scolded by my teachers for not speaking up in class and not standing up for myself. 

It was very, very confusing until I reached my twenties and finally got a therapist who explained to me that I was not the stupid one.

You Can Lose All The Weight You Want, But You’ll Still Be A Jerk

, , , , , , , | Friendly | August 2, 2021

I’m finally catching up with a friend, now we are allowed to meet up outside. We walk around a local park chatting, and it seems that there are lots of people with the same idea.

I suggest grabbing a drink from the stall.

Friend: “Can I get a lemonade?”

Me: “I’ll have a diet cola.”

Cashier: “Oh, sorry, we don’t have any. Oh, wait! The last one.”

Me: “Lucky me.”

I pay for us and we turn to leave, but a woman next in line steps in front of us, her hands on her hips.

Woman: “Err, excuse me. I don’t think what you did was very respectful of others.”

Me: “What?”

Woman: “You! You took the last diet soda! Some of us are trying to lose weight, you know!”

She turns to what looks like her mother.

Me: “I’m sorry, but I like the flavour. I don’t like the regular one.”

Woman: *Dramatic sighing* “Oh, he doesn’t like the flavour. Well, what am I supposed to drink?”

I’m not very good with confrontation. I’m half-thinking about just going home when my friend speaks up.

Friend: “[Woman]?”

Woman: “What?”

Friend: “Your name is [Woman], isn’t it?”

Woman: “So what?”

Friend: “I recognise you; you used to bully us all back in school. Looks like not much has changed there. Still a nasty piece of work, huh?”

Woman: “I don’t know you.”

Friend: “Good, keep it that way. You’re not worth the breath.”

Woman: “Give me the soda!”

Friend: “Oh, I’ve wanted to say this for a long time. F*** you, [Woman]. You can’t bully anyone anymore.” *To me* “Come on. We still have lots to catch up on.”

We had a great time after that. It turns out that [Woman] really was a nasty piece of work and made a lot of people’s lives h***. She kept on bullying people until she couldn’t keep a job or even a social media account.

Transitioning To A More Accepting Viewpoint

, , , , , , , | Learning | June 20, 2021

I’m a science teacher at a small high school. For a few years, I’ve also been handing out Vetinari points, or vet points, for students that answer difficult questions, ask truly insightful questions, or otherwise do something to impress me. The students can then trade the points in for a few potential benefits, most noticeably a small increase in a future test score.

A little while ago, the parent who gave birth to one of our students came out as trans and started his transition. It seems this detail has only recently filtered down to some of the less enlightened students in our school, though. I’ve recently warned one bully in particular about his transphobic comments and harassment.

On this particular day, I’m alone in my room during a break period grading papers while the student in question is at his locker right outside of my room. I’m not listening to his conversation at first, until I overhear a non-school-appropriate synonym for penis that I won’t be repeating here, coming from the hallway. Since I came in partway into the conversation, I am only able to deduce part of the conversation between the bully and the student, though it is clear from tone and attitude alone that the bully is intentionally harassing my student.

Bully: “…mom has a [penis] now.”

Student: “You clearly don’t understand anything about being trans.”

Bully: “What’s there to know?!”

I have already gotten up and am headed out to handle the situation, but by the time I get out there, the student has already started responding with such confidence that I choose to let him finish before intervening. He is literally counting off points on his finger as he speaks.

Student: “First, I don’t have a mom. Second, of my two fathers, only one has, or will ever have, a [penis]. Three, I think you’re just jealous I can kill Macbeth and you can’t.”

Bully: “Huh?”

They are covering “Macbeth” in English around this time. In the play, it’s prophesied that “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.”

Me: “[Student], you just earned yourself one vet point for coming up with a much better subversion of that prophecy than the actual play managed, though you should both use less vulgar terminology next time you wish to discuss a penis.”

Student: “Oh, umm… yes, sir. Thank you.”

Me: “[Bully], I’ve already warned you twice about transphobic comments. Now you will be spending your lunch discussing it with the principal, instead.”

All of us teachers were a little worried for this student originally when his father transitioned, but he proved us all wrong. He handled every question about his father with just as much confidence and conviction, without once losing his cool or lashing out in anger, as he did this time. More than once, I saw him inform ignorant students about what it meant to be trans with such confidence that he managed to convince even some of those who were originally skeptical of the concept to support his father’s transition. It was quite refreshing seeing not only how strongly he stood by his father’s transition but how well (most) of the student body ended up taking and supporting the transition after he explained things to them.


This story is part of our Best Of June 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of June 2021 roundup story!

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Bullet Dodged!

, , , , , , , | Romantic | May 17, 2021

I was bullied in middle school for my grades and my looks. I was a very short, shy, overweight girl. I was eventually diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that can cause delayed puberty and growth. Once I was put on meds to regulate the condition, I was much better. By the time I hit twenty-one, I look very different than I did as a teenager due to my hormones finally working properly.

One of the guys that used to bully me adds me on social media. I believe in second chances, so I add him. About two minutes later, I get a private message.

Guy: “Hey, what’s up?”

Me: “Studying for finals. You?”

Guy:  “Oh, nothing much.”

I go back to my exam review. A few minutes later, I get another message.

Guy: “D***, you grew up good. Real good.”

Me: “Um… thanks?”

Guy: “You were super awkward-looking in middle school. But I see that’s not a problem anymore.”

Me: “Not really sure what to say to that.”

Guy: “I’m complimenting you. Not used to that?”

Me: “It’s kinda backhanded, don’t you think? We were all awkward in middle school.”

Guy: “Geez, lighten up. I’m paying you a compliment. You should say thank you.”

Me: “Yeah, no.”

Guy: “Still uptight, nerdy, and b****y, I see.”

Me: “I’m deleting you now.”

Guy: “C’mon, give me a chance! I’m just having a bad day.”

Me: “Nope. Bye!”

He was still typing when I blocked him.

Bullies Are Just The Worst

, , , , , | Learning | May 11, 2021

I am not social in school. One boy, in particular, seems to take great pleasure in pushing me to the point of tears before leaving me alone with my anger. I tell my parents about this boy, they ask the school to intervene, and the school sends us to a group called “peer counselors.” Each counsel session has two school-aged counselors and one teacher. I’m nine, [Boy] is eleven, and we’re both in fourth grade.

Peer Counselor #1: “We are here today to find out why [My Name] feels targeted by [Boy].”

Boy: “She likes it.”

Me: “I don’t.”

Boy: *Poking me* “It’s just for fun!”

I duck out of his reach, batting his hand away.

Me: “Stop!”

Boy: “She hit me! See?”

Peer Counselor #1: “[Boy], please keep your hands to yourself. [My Name], don’t hit.”

Peer Counselor #2: “[My Name], why do you think [Boy] is picking on you?”

Me: “I don’t know. He’s mean.”

Peer Counselor #2: “Let’s try to not use words like that. Let’s try being more constructive and less destructive.”

Boy: “[My Name] doesn’t have friends. I’m just trying to give her the attention she wants.”

Me: “I don’t want attention.”

Boy: “Then why did you go tattling to your mommy and daddy like a widdle baby?

He makes mocking crying motions by his eyes. I feel the tears coming and shake my head.

Boy: “See? She’s a baby!”

Peer Counselor #2: “[Boy], we don’t call people babies.”

Peer Counselor #1: “Clearly, [My Name] does not like the attention you’re giving her. Don’t you think you should stop?”

Boy: “No. No one else even talks to her.”

He reaches over and pulls my hair so hard my head jerks sideways.

Me: “Stop!”

I start crying.

Teacher: “Okay, [Boy]. That’s enough. Get up.”

Boy: “What?”

Teacher: “Get up. Now.”

She stands beside him, not touching him.

Boy: “You can’t make me.”

Teacher: “Get. Up.”

[Boy] smiles smugly, crossing his arms.

Boy: “No.”

Teacher: “Okay.”

She grabs him by the arm and drags him out of the room. He protests as they go down the hall toward the principal’s office.

Boy: “Hey! Let go! You can’t touch me!”

My mom came and picked me up from school that day. A few days later, when I returned to school, I heard that [Boy] had been expelled. My “tattling” had given other kids the courage to come forward, sharing experiences from stealing lunch money to physical intimidation. The principal and other staff members felt that expulsion was the best move for everyone. I don’t know what happened to [Boy] or where he went after he was expelled.