SAM VILLANUEVA, a Brentwood High School junior, keeps his hair long, plays rock guitar and skateboards. He has a girlfriend but says he's been bullied since the ninth grade by boys who think his choices in dress and in friends are "gay."
They try acting like they're so manly or so tough, and I'm so weak. They always make fun of me and I don't understand it. I'm bigger than some of them, but because I hang around a lot of girls and am accepting of gay people, they make fun of me. . . . Everyone bullies the gays. It goes with the stereotyping; just because someone behaves a certain way they automatically believe that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual. A lot of people are accepting, but a lot of people are ignorant and jerks about it.
It annoys and upsets me to a certain point because I'm not going to try proving to them I'm straight because I don't have to. They'll say, "Dude, why are you wearing purple skinny jeans? They're gay," and I say, "It's just my fashion, it's just the way I like to dress."
It's mostly toward the beginning or end of class. I don't really talk back too much because I feel there's no point to it. I feel the people are too ignorant to understand or know what I have to say.
The teachers there are pretty accepting of every kid, but I don't feel like going to a teacher because that would just give them more of a motive to make fun of me, so I feel like I have take it.
Sometimes I'll get in an argument, mostly insulting back and forth. They never give up unless the teacher stops us. One teacher actually one time pulled aside the kid and said, "You keep talking that way, I'll have to take you out of the class. In this class you talk with respect." The kid just sat down and for the rest of that day he left me alone. But his friends still make fun of me in that class. . . . It's annoying how I constantly have to deal with it when I don't understand their reason or purpose in doing that.
WHAT BRENTWOOD SAYS:Principal Richard Loeschner said that any case involving sustained bullying is "extremely troubling," and that he hoped adults had been informed and given the chance to intervene. "I can't say that every kid feels completely safe, but the staff here is sensitive to it, we talk about it, listen to cues. I would be shocked if things were going on in front of a staff member who looked the other way. Our staff members don't look the other way."
The school has brought in several lecturers and held programs on tolerance and homophobia, including a day of workshops by the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth organization early this month. Some students and a faculty adviser are forming an anti-bullying club campaign to raise awareness, as well.