April 18, 2013

Why I May or May Not Have Cried During No Name-Calling Week

This post by Marissa was originally posted on her Tumblr.

This picture is of my principal, assistant principal, and I during No Name Calling Week.

I got my GSA to do this thing where we wore shirts with names crossed out that we dislike when used out of context, with negative connotation, or just to hurt others intentionally. We knew what had to be done in order to get our point across, but we were still pretty nervous about wearing our shirts to school. I got a lot of weird looks and a few whispers as I made my way to my first class, which was expected. But what I didn’t expect were the high fives I received after explaining to a few curious students why I was wearing the shirt. I definitely did not anticipate the hug from one of my classmates, and the genuine “Thank you” that accompanied it. More and more questions arose about why we were wearing the shirts, and where we had gotten them. I told a few kids that our sponsor helped us make them, and that she had paint in her room. Long story short: the idea caught on. By my third class, I had seen several random kids at my school who weren’t even members of the GSA wearing shirts they had made. Some had names they’d been called personally (like “Gay Bitch” and “Slut”). It completely took me by surprise, and the whole event turned out to be just...surreal. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The next day, my principal stopped me by my locker, wearing a shirt that he had made. Apparently, he asked the sponsor of our GSA about the outbreak of shirts in his hallways and decided to make one of his own, along with the assistant principal. He told me that he supported the GSA 100%, and that he was proud of me. I may or may not have broken out in tears. That’s not important. The important part is that I had just been about to completely give up trying to make this Gay-Straight Alliance work. I felt like I was letting my babies down. We had started it ourselves ...but it was going nowhere. We wanted to make a difference, but we felt like we weren’t even close to getting through to our peers. This event opened everyone’s eyes to who we are and what we are capable of. I am so glad that our hard work hasn’t been in vain and I couldn’t be prouder.

Marissa is a 17-year-old senior from Chicago, Illinois who is president of her school's GSA. She loves acting, books, and the world of musical theater.

Brian Murphy

About Brian Murphy

Brian G Murphy is the online strategies manager for GLSEN -- The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

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