School Bullies: Hawaii Gay Kids Face High Risk Of Harassment

Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat

Editor's Note: This is another installment in our occasional series on bullying in Hawaii schools. Read previous coverage here.

The fan blades spun round on the bedroom ceiling with a metallic whomp, whomp, whomp. Matt sat in the corner of his room, staring aimlessly and fiddling with his neon shoestrings.

He wondered what his science teacher would say about missing class for the second time this week, but didn't really care.

What bothered him more was having to quit the track team junior year. Why did those guys have to suck at life?

He told himself their stupid "no-homo" jokes at lunch and lewd remarks about the way he talks didn't bother him, but here he was at home after ditching school again.

It can be hard to be gay in Hawaii, especially for teens like Matt, whose real name was changed to protect his identity.

Some have found ways to cope with the peer pressure to conform, but the vast majority still struggle to be who they are in a world that expects everyone to fit into categorical boxes of society's stereotypes. Girls date boys. Boys date girls. Girls have long hair and dream of marriage. Boys have short hair and play the field.

Fortunately, places like Farrington High School and social workers like Alison Colby have helped improve the environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in the Aloha State, where bullies harass one of every seven students they think might be gay. There's also an ever-increasing number of safe havens and educational awareness events, with more programs and support groups en route.

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