In 2008 against the advice of many close friends, I attended my 10 year reunion only to experience the same ostracism that characterized the seven academic years I spent at Kinkaid. Although I tried to be social with the crowd of my classmates, only three of them were bold enough to engage in conversation with me and one was the kid-now-man who called me a n*gger in the 7th grade. (Perhaps he felt remorse for his comments as a child and wanted to make amends.) Although the discrimination I felt in this instance was mostly related to my race, I remember experiencing similar acts of discrimination based on my sexual orientation throughout high school. Ten of my friends and I were listed on a "lesbian list" that a bully placed in all of our lockers in order to humiliate us in the 11th grade. Formal dances had an unwritten hetero-only policy and gay slurs were not even viewed as inappropriate.
My experience was back in the 90's, but there have been some efforts made in recent years to make the school's environment more accepting for all people in the Kinkaid community. A diversity initiative and club to fight hate were begun under Principal Mickey Saltman's leadership. And more importantly, gay friendly teachers were permitted to place rainbow stickers outside their classrooms to indicate safe spaces for LGBT students as long as the sponsor's name, "Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network", was removed.
Sadly, it appears that a lot of this progress has been lost as a result of one parent's crusade to stop the school from following a so-called "liberal agenda" that accepts all people. Principal Saltman has been forced out and so have a dozen great faculty and staff who not only excelled in their professions, but who also gave a beacon of hope to severely marginalized students like me.