Excerpt from We Don’t Say Gay at Tranquility Bay
“You two come with me.” Lewis led Penny and Nick out into the hall. “I’ll let you get back to your lunches soon. I just want to speak with you for a minute.”
He led them to his empty classroom, carefully closed the door, and motioned for them to sit down. He sat on a student desk and pulled it up to theirs. “I know what’s going on. I know how badly you’re being treated. But the school board has my hands tied. I can’t help you. I’m not even supposed to talk to you now.”
The two kids glowered at him, prickly and defensive. “So, if we can’t go to our teachers or our principal, where are we supposed to go for help?” asked Penny, bitterly.
“Your parents,” answered Lewis promptly. Then he blushed, looking at Nick. The last time he’d talked to this boy’s parents the kid disappeared for two months.
Maybe they don’t even have that, he realized with a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach. If there are no adults for them to turn to, what are they supposed to do? Both kids shook their heads and rose to return to their lunches. He wasn’t helping one little bit, if anything he just made it worse.
“Listen, both of you. If worse comes to worst call the police. If someone commits a crime and injures you or your property, you can always swear a criminal complaint against them.” There should be so many guiding adults stepping in along the way to help them find a resolution before it becomes violent. How have we fallen so short? Lewis’ failure made him look small in his own eyes.
Nick shook his head sadly at his teacher. “Thanks anyway, Mr. Kincaid. I can’t see me calling the police to report bullying. I’d get it even more.”
Penny nodded her head in agreement. “They’re creative and inventive when it comes to making us suffer. It’d get even worse.”
Nick assumed an easy smile, belied by tense shoulders. “I think we’re kinda on our own here. We’ll have to wing it. It’s only another year and a half.”
Lewis ached for the kids. Not yet grown but completely alone in a threatening world. He felt his failure as a teacher, as a man, keenly.
“What about a GSA, a Gay/Straight Alliance club?” Penny looked at him earnestly. “I think, if people have a chance to get together, we might find others like us. Not necessarily gay or lesbian, because we’re not, Mr. Kincaid, either one of us.” She looked quickly at Nick and away again. “But if it’s happening to us, it’s happening to a lot of other kids who really are gay. We could start a club for everyone and maybe others will come and we won’t be so alone. Mr. Kincaid, will you be the club’s staff sponsor?”
“Yes!” He grabbed at it gratefully. Relief washed over him as he realized he could do something. “I’ll be very happy to, Penny,” he agreed enthusiastically. “Just let me know what you need, and I’ll do it!”
“Great Mr. K.” She stood with Nick, holding his hand. “I’ll get back to you on that, promise.” They left to return to the cafeteria.
Lewis opened his briefcase and fished out the apple he brought for lunch. A school club isn’t enough. There must be something more I can do, there just has to be.
WE DON’T SAY GAY AT TRANQUILITY BAY
Expected Publication Date: June 1, 2022