school environment, personal issues, alternative school, TDSB, family issues, coming out, lesbian, homophobia, religious conservatism
Tara: So you didn’t end up, um graduating from ah--
Tara: from Northern. Do you mind telling us that story?
Jae: Yes, yeah. So, uh, I did, after Northern—I did have some problems in high school as well, where it was kind of hard. I never had problems academically, I was always a smart kid (chuckles), well, you know, not super smart but I was pretty average. Um, but the thing with that school is that is it so huge and there’s like thousands of kids going there. And it’s really hard for the teachers to kind of, you know, spend a lot of time, not even a lot of time but just kind of like, attention, like give proper attention to certain students. And I was definitely kind of one that was like, you know, falling through the cracks. I mean, I had a lot of my own issues that I had to deal and you know, school just kind of became turmoil after a while. And Northern, as much as it was a big school, it was also really easy to fall into the wrong crowd--
Jae: and to fall into, you know, bad habits and that sort of thing. So, I did, you know, I did go to school there and then um, I ended up going to alternative school which was really good, you know, like I got the attention I needed and I made some new friends and Northern was like, “Oh,” you know, “we see how well you did at this school, so we will welcome you back!” And so, I was able to go back the next year and you know, I did the basketball thing and I did the arts things and it was good and all that. And then, towards the end there, um, I needed, I think I needed an extra credit or two to graduate, something like that. And they, they, I couldn’t, if I had to do that at Northern, I would have had to do a whole entire year and I wasn’t really wanting to do a whole year when all of my friends were already gone and so I was like, ok. So, the alternative to that was to go to an alternative school, do the two or three credits that I needed and then I could, I could be done.
Jae: Right? So I ended up going to this other really good alternative school called Bathurst. I don’t know if it’s around anymore. It was, it was really cool, you know, we did all these you know, there was like a cooking class, like the kids were really cool. Like the teachers were always giving out books, like cool books, I still have a bunch of really cool books from all my teachers. (excited) Like it was really great! And then, um, yeah, meanwhile, though, you know, over the years, I had had issues with my mom and coming out as a lesbian at the time and um, you know, she was, at the time, you know, I don’t think so anymore but at the time, she was very religious so um, you know, she would say things like, “Oh, you’re going to go to hell!” you know, just really awful things you know, that we’ve all heard before, yeah. And then, um, she decided to—um, I only had like, maybe a week or two left and this was like a year-round school and we, instead of having the whole summer off, we would have school, I guess and then after every four or five months, we would have like, three weeks off and then back to school again and then three weeks off, that sort of thing, which I actually thought was a pretty cool setup, you know? It worked out, yeah. Um, but then she, uh towards the end there—which is crazy to me now that I think about it because my mom is all about education and stuff—for some reason she couldn’t put her prejudices aside and she, you know, she was like, “Ok that’s it!” You know, “You’re too much for me” you know, “I don’t like this lifestyle (does air quotes) that you’re living, you know, it’s making me uncomfortable, I want you out.” Pretty much. And um, which was really unfortunate because I only, like I said, I only had two weeks left and I would have been done high school. And what ended up happening was it—up north, I had to do high school, pretty much I had to do three years of high school in order to make up for the time—because, like some of my credits weren’t valid up north for some reason? I’m not really sure how that worked but yeah, I ended up having do like, (turns to Daya) was it like three years?
Daya: Um-hum. Yeah.
Jae: We were there for a while