I'm reposting this directly from my partner's blog with permission -- of course.
In light of everything that has happened, I am not capable of being able to adequately express exactly how I feel about this entire situation. My partner speaks for the both of us...
Can you imagine?
Being an eleven year old, fifth grade, boy? Now, imagine being the smallest in your class; short and slight, weighing only 62 pounds and the other kids tower over you by at least 8 inches. You are, at best, the same size as the average third grader.
Imagine your dream of being able to play football and basketball with the other boys but they rarely let you play.
Then, one day, the boys come to you and say you can play with them. You are ecstatic and eager and hoping to be able to out run them and squeeze between them like 5′6″ Darren Sproles of the San Diego Chargers. You play a little; run and try to tackle the play, get yourself wide open but the ball is never thrown your way.
Suddenly, you find yourself in the center of a circle of boys and they are all calling you “Gay Gabe” and then they push a smallish, fourth grader into the center with you and begin to chant, “FIGHT! FIGHT!! FIGHT!!!” You know who this other boy is and don’t want to fight. He’s got a bad reputation and is just two days back from two weeks suspension. Then… He hits you. You try to run but the circle of boys tightens and they push you back to the center. You yell at them to let you go but they don’t hear you through their chanting.
The fourth grader throws you to the ground and kicks you in the face. He grabs your cheeks, causing scratches in the shape of a circle, and then hits you with his fist, squarely on the bridge of your nose. He hits you so hard that your nose may be broken and you definitely have a black eye. You begin to cry. The fourth grader, now buoyed by the crowds’ chants, lifts his foot and stomps on your hand so hard that you can’t move it for three days. Later, at the emergency room, they think it might be broken and take x-rays.
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, a teacher’s aide breaks up the fight and you and the fourth grader get sent to the principle’s office. However, on the way there, the EA notices you are bleeding and sends you to the nurses’ office. They call your mom and tell her to come to the school immediately to take you to the emergency room because you can’t move your swollen hand and your nose has a huge bump.
You spend your evening in the emergency room and cry, not because you hurt, though it does, but because you are afraid you are going to be in trouble and you are afraid you will be beat up again when you go back to school.
Luckily, your mom(s) are sympathetic and listen and attempt to get the truth of the situation out of all of the stories told by the principle, teacher, nurse, and… They believe you. So, you stay out of school for several days, one of which is an in-service day and the other a holiday. Your mom(s) discuss pulling you out of public school when the principle treats the situation as, “Boys will be boys” and claims you were part of the problem because you were part of the fight. But you were just trying to defend yourself and couldn’t get out of the circle!
After several days out of school, you begin to get your courage up and want to return because you have friends there, a routine, a teacher you like, and you’ve been going to this school for three years now. So, a week after the incident, you return to school.
As you are walking to your class, a parent of one of the boys involved with the incident approaches you and begins yelling at you. “Is your mom going to sue me?” “You get the fuck out of here… Just get the fuck away! You’re not allowed on this field. I don’t want to deal with any bullshit about my children going to juvie. Just get the fuck out of here!”
This man has been playing football with a select group of boys before and after school. (After learning about this your mom(s) are very concerned because, normally, for anyone to “volunteer” at APS schools, an individual must pay $30 and get a background check just to be able to be around the kids. Your mom(s) wonder who this man is and why he’s allowed on school grounds. He could be anyone or… anything.) All of the kids now surround you and are saying things like, “Is your mom gonna put a lawsuit on us?” “You better get the fuck out of here!” And you lower your head as the bell rings and try to rush to your classroom.
The parent and the other boys follow you, taunting you, calling you names, and the parent tells you that you have a big mouth and turns to the other boys and tells them, “If he runs his mouth, beat him up; beat the shit out of him.” As you are walking up the walkway to your classroom, the parent says, “You have a big mouth.” Just as the parent says this, the teacher walks out of the classroom, looks at the parent, turns to you and says, “Sometimes you do have a big mouth, Gabriel.” And you feel your safe haven has turned into a nightmare and don’t know what to do so you go to your desk and sit, in fear, for the rest of the day.
This is exactly what happened to our eleven year old.
We found out about it from our childcare provider. No one called us; no one told us what was going on, no one bothered to help him. It was late when we found out and decided to call the police. They referred us to APS police and an officer came out and took our statements. He was calling the first incident “battery” and the incident with the parent, “assault.” Damn right it was assault.
Today I went to Gabe’s first basketball game. His coaches were teaching, gentle, prodding, firm, totally in control of the boys and their form. Gabe was so proud to be on the team. You see, he’s now in Catholic school, which totally creeps me out (being the recovering Catholic that I am) but, considering the incidents at CHAPARRAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, I’m okay with it. He’s in a class of twelve kids and they are so glad to have him! He’s still a little shy to make friends but he’s only been there for a little over a week. He’s going to be just fine. We may be eating rice for the rest of our lives but, well, you know; one billion people can’t be wrong! He’s worth it.
We are waiting for the police report to know how to proceed. We still have a child in that school and he’s special needs. I fear for him but the Catholic school doesn’t have a special needs program. The only good thing about it is that he gets a lot of one-on-one supervision in special needs. Plus, I have called in every chip, every favor, and am onto every person I know in the upper echelons of APS and am awaiting some satisfaction around how this dumbass principle dealt with this situation. I also called her out on it.
It’s a tough world out there and, well, these are eleven year old boys. Just imagine being the littlest… but believe me… the scrappiest of them all. Just imagine what he went through.
And when he acts out… gets crabby or bratty or insolent, just remember that it isn’t really pointed at you. It’s pointed at the bullies who have been harassing him since the first of the year. It’s pointed at the injustices of it all. It’s pointed at the “parent” who basically told those other boys that it’s okay to pick on another kid, it’s okay to use foul language, it’s okay to “beat the shit” out of a kid because he’s smart, nerdy, trekky, goofy, and just wants to be able to play football and basketball. ‘Cause, you know, he knows every statistic on every player in the game; he’s weird like that. It’s pointed at the teacher who didn’t bother to find out why the parent was saying this to him and therefore condoned the behavior toward him. Totally not okay.
And God knows (even more now that he’s trying to figure out what the “Sacrament” [This whole “eating Jesus” thing is quite perplexing to him.] is and why that white guy is nailed to a cross) he’s a lovable, sweet, loving kid who helps his little brother, talks incessantly about football, talks incessantly about Ghost Hunters, writes macabre, scary stories about Cap’n Underpants-like superheroes, and sometimes even cleans out the cat box… correctly.