school climate, cliques, racism, homophobia, school support, language, self-advocacy, unsafe, confidence, language, micro-aggressions, targeted, resiliency, student violence, teacher support, administrative support
Tara: outside this “safe space,” what was it like in the rest of the school?
Jae: Well, it was um, you know the other classrooms, like, most teachers, all the teachers actually, I, I loved all the teachers. But, there was definitely, you know, certain kids, where in certain rooms—like we were definitely like, the more like, free-spirited, the more artsy-type kids, you know, in the one room and then, kind of like, you know—(turns to Daya, laughs) how would you describe the (laughs) the other kids?
Daya: More like the jocks and the like (pauses)--
Jae: Jocks and kind of, um--
Daya: Like, like, um--
Jae: Um, how do, how do we be nice about this? (Daya laughs)
Daya: I don’t know! (laughs, Jae laughs) I don’t know how to be nice about it!
Jae: The not so nice, you know--
Daya: No, it was just, it was just like, um--
Jae: But we were friends with pretty much everybody.
Daya: Oh, I don’t know.
Jae: There were, you know, there were kids who were nice, but would still kind of through around, you know, racial slurs and racist things or say homophobic things (Daya nods) even though they were friends with us, they’d still, you know--
Jae: and say stuff with like, you know, no filter, pretty much.
Daya: Um, yep.
Tara: Were you um, able to respond, or were the teachers able to respond to any of this?
Jae: (sighs) It’s kind of, it’s kind of just “how it was”, you know? The teachers didn’t really try anything to enforce--
Daya: We didn’t even know how to respond.
Daya: People would like, they were all testing the limits, right?
Daya: And we didn’t know. Like, we had limits but we didn’t know, like, how to enforce them.
Jae: Especially in the beginning. Like it was really hard to stand up for ourselves. Like we kind of just let people--
Daya: Right! We didn’t even have like, the language--
Jae: No, no.
Daya: to do it. And we didn’t, we hadn’t really found our community yet or anything.
Jae: No, yeah.
Daya: We didn’t feel that, like, confidence yet.
Jae: Hmm. Yeah, yep. (nods)
Daya: And it was really hard. It was hard at first. Like people were like, walking all over, like all over us.
Jae: Yep. (nods)
Daya: And like, using, um really disrespectful language.
Daya: And um, and, like these little micro-aggressions, right?
Daya: Yeah. So, but over time, we did. We got like, stronger.
Jae: Yeah, towards the end there.
Jae: Yeah. We finally like, put our foot down and put people in their place and told them it was not right.
Daya: Well, some stuff happened, like--
Daya: Yeah, we had to yeah, get a bigger--
Jae: Yeah, do you want to talk about that?
Daya: Build a thicker skin.
Jae: Yeah, yeah. There were definitely, well I mean, you had gone to that school before we both went together.
Daya: Yeah, I had, I actually kind of was like, like--
Jae: Because Daya was like, back and forth to Toronto to Haliburton--
Daya: Triggered to go into that one classroom where like, like, a lot of the kids were because I had actually gotten beat up from actually just walking into that classroom, (Jae nods) like, before Jae had moved up with me. Um, so (pauses)—
Jae: Was it like a homophobic—?
Daya: It felt homophobic because I had like, befriended this other girl and we were like always hanging out. And, then, um, like, they, they totally like, targeted us and they, we just walked in, we were trying to see our teacher and like, um, and, and they attacked us and said that they didn’t like the way we dressed and they didn’t like the way we, um, they just didn’t like us, you know? Then, that was when it was like, “Ok why?” (laughs) Like, and yeah. It felt, like, there was definitely some weird stuff there. And uh--
Tara: Were you able to get any support from the teachers?
Daya: No, I didn’t get any support, like, at all.
Jae: And they didn’t do anything.
Daya: They didn’t like, report it. And like, she attacked me. She was like strangling me (puts hands to her throat) by the time they had um, like, gotten her, like, came. And, uh, yeah, so--
Jae: They didn’t do anything.
Daya: They didn’t do anything! (laughs) Yeah, they, they, it was all like, she told me if, if she had to punish her, she would have to punish me, right? So that was the whole thing. It was all like…equal instead of justice (laughs).
Tara: Right, right.
Daya: And um, I remember sitting there and like, looking her in the eye, like my principal, in the eyes and telling her like, that I couldn’t trust this school or her--
Daya: and like, um, I don’t think I went back again for a long time until (laughs) Jae--
Daya: moved back up. And we were like, “Ok, so we should probably try to go to school”, (laughs) and like, “We can do this together!”
Jae: Yeah, yeah.
Daya: And, yeah, we definitely had our guard up but yeah it like, we made some good allies, some really good friends, um--