We received an amazing letter from Jen Grygiel of Boston, MA, whose request to visit her old school district in upstate New York was ignored. Below is a link to Jen’s own blog post about her experience, and her open letter to students at Mount Markham is re-printed in full.
Jen writes, ” After reading about Back to Your School, I immediately realized the importance of the movement—I wish I had know just one out LGBT person in the 13 years I spent in the Mount Markham Central School District (West Winfield, NY).” Jen: thank you for joining the movement!!
Jen’s Open Letter:
Please believe me when I tell you that I never thought I’d be able to say these words when I was in high school: I’m gay. I was bullied in elementary school by a group of high schoolers that rode the bus with me, and the self hatred continued from there. By the time I got to high school, I thought I was going to live my entire life in the closet. I honestly felt that there was no way for me to ever be myself, and I gave up hope. Thankfully, I had a great family, amazing friends and some wonderful teachers—I made it out of West Winfield, NY alive in 1997.
In the last fourteen years I’ve experienced some of the best moments of my life. I lived abroad in London and came out there. I got to teach high school photography for a year—very cool. My twin sister Melissa had twin girls a few years ago and also had a son. Her kids are the loves of my life, and I can’t imagine never knowing them, or being there for them. I’ve been with my partner now for two and a half years and it’s my dream, since it was legalized in 2004, to get married some day. Gay marriage wasn’t legal when I was in high school; I literally didn’t know how to dream about it. Now I’m a big dreamer. I kinda think anything is possible, like graduating from Harvard, because I’ve seen society change so much in just my lifetime. I hope that all students at Mt. Markham will be as fortunate as I am. And I hope that you all will go back to your schools some day to share your stories and help inspire those behind you to love more and to be better people.
Best of luck to you all,
-Jen Grygiel ‘97