High School Heroes

by Kelsey Themens,

British Columbia, Canada

High School Heroes

High school is rough, it’s a well-known fact. For a lot of people, one of the biggest struggles they face is bullying, usually from fellow students. For me, the primary antagonists of my high school experience happened to be a handful of teachers who roamed the halls. I wasn’t the only one disappointed with the blatant homophobia displayed in specific classrooms; there were quite a few of us, all fighting for equality on our school grounds.

The spark that really set off the explosion occurred on a Wednesday. On Thursday, two or three dozen outraged students were gathered in a classroom, speaking to the administration about the horrendously offensive video that had been mandated to be shown in all classes. The conclusion: they messed up, and with a lackluster apology, it was swept under the rug. We didn’t stop there, though.

While we all fought for some kind of victory against the injustices that many students faced on a daily basis, the most prominent was a fearless, well-spoken, and most importantly, outspoken, group of students in grade 12. It would not have been possible for us to get as far as we did without their grit and genuine passion for the fight. They had the necessary connections with a handful of decent teachers, as well as younger students, and were able to rally everyone together to make the school a more accepting place.

While we were never given a more comprehensive apology and the school fought against our steps forward, after six months of submitting outlines, we were finally given permission to start an inclusivity club at our school. We weren’t allowed to make announcements, and it was fairly undercover, but it was still filled with students. While such groups go by many names, the message is the same: it is a safe space for anyone and everyone to be themselves in an otherwise potentially critical environment.

To this day, our school isn’t necessarily the most supportive place on the planet, but I know that after school on Fridays in room 407 there are people—students and teachers alike—working to change that. Not only did that grade 12 group make our place of education feel like that much more of a community, but they served as role models for myself and countless others.

They were people who stood up for what they believed in and didn’t let fear of judgement or others prejudices get in the way. They’ve given me something to aspire to: in a few years—or maybe even right now—to be that upperclassman who inspires another young student.

Originally published as HeroicStories #897 on June 26, 2021

4 thoughts on “High School Heroes”

  1. If _homo_means same and _phobe_means fear, conservatives do not fear same sex demonstrations. They strenuously object to them because the Bible prohibits them, and they do not want their children to think they are acceptable. This not not mean that homosexuals are in any way unacceptable, only their behavior. We would hope that you would love us despite our SIN, just as we love you despite yours.. _Homophobe_ is a deliberately belittling misnomer.

    • “…they do not want their children to think they are acceptable”. Denying their so-called “acceptability” ultimately denies them their right to exist, and does untold damage. In my opinion, this is something that meets the definition of homophobia.

      Important: I won’t allow this to devolve into a discussion of the pros and cons of either Christianity or LGBQT+ issues. This is a place for positivity, and those discussions rarely, if ever, end up positive.

    • I don’t understand the relevance of this comment to this story. There is no mention of any religion in the story. We have no reason to assume that the teachers’ behaviors were motivated by anything other than what the author observed.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Kelsey. And for recognizing heroes when you meet them.
    As a fellow Canadian, I would love to know more about this fearless, well-spoken and outspoken group of students in grade 12. I feel that your story is longer than what is available in this format.
    No need to wait, you can already be a person who stands up for people no matter who they are, and inspires others to do the same. Congratulations!


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