Adam is a reserved and quiet, serious Grade 10 student. He is the top student in English literature, his favourite subject. Adam has no interest in sports. Although all his friends are girls, he does not have a girlfriend and hasn’t ever seriously dated. He considers himself straight. Sometimes he wonders if he’ll ever have a girlfriend. The girls he hangs around with all see him as “just a friend” and he is sometimes afraid that girls just are not attracted to boys like him who don’t act like movie stars. He’s had crushes on a few girls but has never dared to ask them out.

Adam has begun to feel unsafe at school. A few of the boys in his grade have taken a disliking to him and life has become very stressful. Adam has to walk by a group of these boys at lunchtime to get to his locker. They stand in a group, sneering and calling him names as he walks by. They use derogatory terms, implying that he is gay.

Adam slinks by them as fast as he can, hoping to be invisible. He does not see himself as able to defend himself. The bullying he experiences ramps up his worries about himself and his masculinity.

One day as he walks past these boys, he can feel the atmosphere has changed. There is a heightened tension and aggression in the way the boys look at him and this time they follow him all the way to his locker in a secluded section of the school. When they get there, Adam feels terrified. They close in on him and beat him up, kicking and punching him until he is bruised and bleeding. Then they run off and he crouches down and cries, hiding his face in his arms.

The next day he has a black eye and his friends want to know what has happened. He tells them, reluctantly, afraid that the label “gay” will stick to him; he feels that it makes him vulnerable. His friends are very upset that he has been hurt. One girl is particularly outraged. She is a member of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and she asks Adam if she and her group can help him.

The GSA group members decide to make Adam’s case their mission for the year. With input and meaningful direction from Adam, they report his situation to the principal who intervenes with the boys who have perpetrated the homophobic assault and bullying. The principal follows up regularly with Adam to ensure that the aggression has ended. The GSA members work with the principal and devise a plan to ensure that all students in the school receive awareness-raising and sensitization sessions on sexual diversity from a local LGBTQ advocacy group. Adam begins to feel safer at school and decides to join the GSA.