It was a rare chance to spend time with my niece and nephew at the park. The two ran ahead and met up with friends while I held back to observe. What I heard shocked me. What I saw frightened me. What I did they will forever live in their memory.

The group of 14 year olds confronted a young lady. She was simply sitting on a bench reading but the group descended upon her. “Fag” “Sissy” “Queer” “Homo” were being flung around among the group.

She ignored them and continued reading but then one of the group grabbed her arms. Another grabbed her legs. A third grabbed her hair. She was screaming for help and people just stood around staring at her.

My own niece and nephew held back and were laughing at the poor girl. My own flesh and blood had done something I never believed was possible. They participated in an act of bullying and allowed this poor girl to be abused.

Looking at me they saw rage. I let out a loud and booming “JUST WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING TO THAT POOR GIRL!” The group scattered while my niece and nephew stayed put. They were caught and they knew it. They tried to justify their actions but no words came out.

One motion of my hands to signal them to be quiet stopped those words.

The poor girl was still crying. I did what I could to try to calm her. She looked up at me and asked me “why?” I told her the truth “because you didn’t do anything to deserve what happened to you.” She thanked me for my help and tried to leave. I asked that she stay put for a few minutes. She reluctantly agreed but told me she needed to go.

I turned to my niece and nephew and offered them one simple word: “Why?” Neither could answer. I asked again “Why?” They tried to find the reasoning but couldn’t. I asked a third time with force “Why?” They couldn’t answer.

I took the opportunity to set things right. In a calm voice I asked “do you know who she is?” They nodded explaining who she was and why she was dressed as a girl.

I asked “and is it not correct that until last summer you were friends with her?” They said yes.

I asked “then why if you are friends did you allow her to be brutally berated and attacked?” They told how she was constantly teased by everyone and the students did this all the time.

I asked “why?” They admitted “because she is becoming a girl.”

I asked “why?” They mumbled that they didn’t know.

I asked “did you ask her?” They admitted they haven’t spoken with her since her change started.

I asked “why?” They admitted “anyone who does is teased mercilessly.”

I asked “why?” They admitted “because they don’t like her."

I asked “why?” They admitted “because she is different."

I turned the questioning around. I asked “did you like it when you were being teased because of your casts or your crutches?” They both answered “no.”

I asked them “so if you didn’t like getting teased then why did you do it?” They admitted “because we didn’t want to be different.”

I asked them “other than becoming a girl has she changed?” They both said no.

I asked them “If she hasn’t changed, has she done something to deserve being ignored? Is she annoying or verbally abusive or make crude jokes?” They both said no.

I asked them “so if she hasn’t changed who she is, she hasn’t done anything to be ignored, and only changed her outward appearance then why?” The both mumbled “I don’t know.”

I asked one last question “if you were in her shoes, would you want people who liked you, who were your friends, who got along with you to stand back and do nothing?” They said “no we would want them to help us.”

I asked “why?”

They both looked at her and saw what I meant. I told them “she deserves an apology. You were raised better than this. Popularity or not your friends are your friends regardless of how they look.”

I watched as the two offered apologies. She cried as they did so, looking at me with joy.

She got up and walked over to me and asked me simply “why?” I told her “why not?”

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