Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Putting an End to Bullying


By Jacqueline White

My adopted daughter was born in the projects of the South Bronx, some of the meanest streets in America, and in her early years was tutored in its ruthless code. Though able to escape to Minnesota through her first adoption, she remains proud of her “New York skills”: her ability to throw down, to fight back, to not get punked.

I tell you this because Amy would want you to understand that for Amy Perez, a tough kid from the Bronx, to perceive her suburban Minneapolis high school as so dangerous she had no choice but to drop out, well, it had to be truly treacherous. It’s been more than a decade now, but when word got out that Amy was a lesbian, she was jumped twice and roughed up. The school administration offered no help: she was told she had brought on the attacks herself because of her sexual orientation.

School had been Amy’s refuge, the one glimpse of normalcy she had in the abusive chaos of her biological, foster, and first adoptive homes. Even after her first adoptive mother kicked her out upon discovering Amy’s love letters to another girl, Amy still went to school though she was homeless. She loved school and, as she has said, “The books and the teachers loved me back.” She was staying in a youth shelter when, on cable TV, she happened to catch her classmates walking across a stage to receive their diplomas. The sight was devastating.