Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kate's Story

Kate Mabe gave the following speech at the Prevent School Violence NC Press Conference on March 11 to introduce the School Violence Prevention Act (House Bill #548, Senate Bill #526). We applaud Kate's brave efforts to share her story at such an open venue, and we encourage all who are in the position to do so to share their stories. Let people know why you support this bill and why ALL children deserve to feel safe in school. Below is a video of the speech, followed by the transcription.

My name is Kate Mabe and I’m a junior at Mount Tabor High School. I am here because I believe that the best way to understand things and to inform people is through your own story and life. I am here to tell you, through my story, why you should care about what bullying policies really say.

I came out as gay to my friends in 7th grade. I had an awful time dealing with it myself and I was proud that I could take that step. Eventually, more people started finding out and that was when things got bad. I had rumors spread about me, people called me names. I was a victim of bullying. I couldn’t ask the staff for help because I was almost positive they would do nothing but call my parents, tell them I was gay, and my world would fall apart. I was always terrified of my parents finding out. But, eventually I came out to by parents and they had some issues, as some parents do. So I still didn’t feel comfortable bringing up the issue with the staff because I could only see more trouble coming from that.

I started my freshmen year of high school and a lot of kids who had gone to middle school with me went as well. So, naturally, some of the bullying followed. But because I knew there were no rules protecting me, I was sure I would get no support or help from the staff if I told them what was happening. I had good reason to believe so, too. Earlier in the year, a teacher had called me out in front of the whole class asking if I was gay. I ended up becoming so uncomfortable with even going to school that I made the tough decision that I had to change schools or I knew I wouldn’t last through high school. Getting to change schools was a huge shift for me, but it was a blessing. I love going to Mount Tabor. It’s not perfect, but it’s a “live-and-let-live” place, for the most part. I still do experience some problems with students and I do hear a lot of terms like “that’s so gay” and other derogatory terms for gays and lesbians.

Sometimes it makes me feel really lonely and like no one cares about me. And I think that’s how a lot of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens feel; Because not a lot of people will stand up for me, or anyone like me in schools. I have come to realize that take on two jobs when I walk through the door of my school, I take on the job of learning, and the job of standing up for myself and who I am. It hurts knowing I have to do something most students never even think about, but every time I hear “that’s so gay” and a teacher does nothing about it, it’s a terrifying confirmation that I’m on my own, without protection, as soon as I get out of my mothers reach. I’ll never ask for “special rights” in school, I’ll never ask for “special rights” anywhere, all I’ll ever ask for is what every straight kid has in school. I want tolerance, I want to be able to learn without fear, and I want to freedom to be myself without consequence. That’s all I’ll ever ask for. Thank You.