Monday, October 20, 2014

High School Sucks

I well remember the discussions around the evening dinner table as my high school-age children shared a little bit of their frustrations at school. Six of my 10 children have attended and/or graduated from the same school which is in a predominantly Mormon suburb of Salt Lake. More often than not, their complaint concerned someone "who's supposed to be a member of the (LDS) Church," but had treated them badly or had taken advantage of their family/church connections, getting away with murder - or at least skipping class, etc. Other times, it was simply that so and so was being so mean

The same sorts of thing went on in junior high, and I was appalled when I finally realized what was going on there. Junior high is a jungle - sometimes a very dangerous one. But high school is more like Hunger Games.

This was brought home to me yesterday when my daughter came home after having attended a LDS singles ward (randomly) with a friend she's known for at least 10 years. While there, they saw a person they knew in high school. My daughter proceeded to tell me that this girl had been very "popular," and they were both in the same Creative Writing class in their senior year. One assignment they were given was to start and write in a blog during the semester.

My daughter showed me the blog that this girl they recognized at church had written. I was appalled. I looked at my daughter and thought of my other children who have attended that school. I had no idea it was this awful. Let me quote from a couple of the posts. The first excerpt is from a post about what she doesn't like about boys:
  • "When they take pictures of themselves and then put in up on Facebook. STOP. It makes you 100% homosexual and 120% undateable, forever. 
  • "When they ask "Do you hate me?" Yes, yes I do ...
  • "When they wear jewlery. Unless that ring symbolizes your chastity or your deceased brother gave you that necklace, it's never okay. (Also, sports related jewelry [sic] is fine.)
  • "ANYTHING that hints toward their feelings in a Facebook status or Tweet. Example. 'Not all scars show. Not all wounds heal. Sometimes you can't see, the pain someone feels.' Okay, I'm never talking to you again."
She reserved most of her venom for members of her own sex:
"Why are you railing every pretty girl? Why why why why. You can't change the fact that you are ugly so try making the inside decent. Also, stop putting on ugly clothes and wearing no make-up like you don't care what people think. I have to tolerate looking at it and it's not working, we can all still tell that you [don't] care. Here, let me help you. Go get yourself some skinny jeans, a curling iron and a low-fat yogurt. I then want you to sit and really reflect in on yourself. Ask yourself why? Why am I tearing down others? Then stop what you are doing and develop a personality so you can maybe compete. You're welcome."
You can't make this stuff up. At least I couldn't.

By the way, the girl who wrote this was and is a practicing, active Mormon. My purpose is not to pick on the Church. But the truth is that high schools around here are full of people like her - both girls and boys. Teenagers who have been taught from practically their cradle to love others, to be kind, etc., but who are actually downright mean and nasty. The really sad truth is that a lot of these kids simply morph into adults carrying their mindsets with them. (That being said, there are also a lot of kind kids, too.)

To my children: I'm so sorry you had to endure stuff like this. I'm sure I only heard a small portion of what you were facing when you were in school. It's a miracle you survived (or not) as well as you did. I'm proud of the persons you have become.


  1. Luckily I only spent part of my teen years in Salt Lake, but this is very true. As a young teen who was deeply closeted and unsure of his place in the LDS community, I was mercilessly teased by boys a year or two older than me who now parade around like Peter Priesthoods. It was sometimes so awful that I dreaded going to Church or being anywhere that I might have contact with them. The best thing that ever happened to me was moving far away from Salt Lake to a place with few LDS. I sometimes happen to spot these Peter Priesthoods when I visit family in Salt Lake and I wonder if their own children are tormented by bullies just like their fathers.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Edward. I have also heard tales of a similar sort from one of my sons who is out about his gay dads. He has several gay friends, and he has told me stories about what they have endured.