By Tony Dokoupil
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Alex Merritt was not used to being the butt of jokes. Solidly built with a smooth face and shaved blond hair, he cruised to junior year of high school without the usual social speed bumps. But, enrolled in a part-time vocational program, he was taking his first lumps, scorned for being gay — or so his tormentors claimed.
“Alex’s fence swings both ways,” they taunted. “Alex’s boat floats in a different direction than the rest of the guys in the class.”
Suddenly everything Alex did seemed to offer evidence against him: when he mentioned Ben Franklin in a report on the Industrial Age, it was because he has “a thing for older men.” When he covered Abraham Lincoln in another presentation, it was because Honest Abe and Merritt were “made for each other.” Even the name of his car, a Ford Probe, was viewed as a sign of his homosexuality — the perfect vehicle for a boy who “enjoys wearing woman’s clothes.”
Filed under: Bullying, Effects of Bullying, Lawsuits/Criminal Charges | Tagged: Alex Merritt, Bullying, Diane Cleveland, Lawsuits/Criminal Charges, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Secondary Technical Education Program, Walter Filson | Leave a comment »