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Tour de Life: A Mother's Plea
Section One
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Tour de Life: A Mother's Plea

by Beau Burriola - SGN European Correspondent

Dear Readers,

This week I want to use my column to reprint a letter I was forwarded, written by the brave mother of a Gay 16-year-old in Shreveport, Louisiana, to a local PFLAG chapter. She was kind enough to give me permission to reprint the letter in its entirety.

I think you'll find Laura Ballantine's story a moving and heartfelt plea for support that every parent with a Gay child feels. At her request, I am including her e-mail address for those of you who wish to contact her.

From: ballantine1972@aol.com
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 11:12
Subject: My son, Zachary.


Good morning. My name is Laura Ballantine. I am the wife of a soldier here at Fort Polk. I have four children and a grandchild. We've been here in Louisiana for three years this past November and are originally from San Diego. My son, who is 13 years old, came out to me almost a year and a half ago. My brother is Gay. I have many Gay friends. So, this news wasn't a good news/bad news type of thing. I offered my help and support whenever he needs it, just as I do with any other aspect of his life.

Well, as you can imagine, in the last several years Zachary has grown and matured in his own way and it's becoming apparent to students at his school who he is. He started becoming the subject of verbal and physical abuse from another student last year. When he told me what was going on I was very quick to jump to his defense. I contacted the school and the offending student was suspended. It was the last I had heard from Zachary regarding any other issues at school. That is until this last weekend. I got an e-mail from a friend Zachary had made on the internet. He's 16, lives in Arizona and is also Gay. Zachary has been telling this boy about his encounters at school. This young man managed to get my e-mail address from Zachary and e-mailed me that there was almost daily bullying and physical abuse going on again. The same student from last year is back at it, but even more so because I reported him last year. And now there are about five more kids involved in the attacks.

The latest was last Thursday when a kid from his PE class slapped him across the face, called him a faggot and stole his glasses, which had flown off his face when the kid slapped him. Zachary tells me that he's gotten to where he carefully plans where he sits. At lunch he has to look over his shoulder, and he tries to avoid these kids in the courtyard after lunch. PE is very stressful because the abuse takes place during class and the handful of PE coaches do nothing to stop it.

To add to this, Zachary doesn't want me to go to the administration. I've done it anyway, because as his mother I cannot and will not allow him to be subject to this abuse at the hands of a bunch of ignorant kids. He doesn't want to be home-schooled. We tried it a year ago and he didn't like it. He doesn't want to change schools when he as the option to. I applaud his bravery, but I don't understand. I asked him if he felt humiliated and his response to that was, "I don't feel anything about it anymore." That scares me. I feel as though not only is he physically being damaged, but emotionally and mentally he is being destroyed.

Zachary is an A-B student, gets along well with his teachers and is a good citizen. I feel he's being torn down and doesn't want to inconvenience anyone with it. He says he doesn't want attention drawn to the problem any more than it is. I think that nothing is going to get resolved because he's conveying that people can get away with what they are doing because he allows it. My biggest fear now is that one day I am going to get a call or a knock at my door with the news my son's body has been found.

As a mother, I am lost. I really have no one here I can talk to about this. I mostly have my friends back home, and they have been a wonderful help. They guided me to your organization. As you can imagine, being a military family makes things all the more difficult since there really isn't support for parents and families like us and I really don't want to have to deal with the stigma the military already bestows upon Gays.

Any advice and suggestions you can offer me would be greatly appreciated. You are the first place I'm coming to for support. You were highly recommended.

Thank you in advance for your time.

Laura Ballantine

If those of us who were Gay were fortunate enough to have a mother like this watching our backs, perhaps it would have been much easier on all of us. People like Laura and her son are exactly why PFLAG exists and why they are so necessary for us to support. They are the support in places where the Gay voice isn't always heard. Thank you, Laura, for being a kickass mum.

Beau Burriola is a Gay kid of two formerly unsupportive parents. www.beaubrent.com, beaubrent@gmail.com.

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