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A girl’s story of tagging

The author of the article "Tagging was my escape" made several good points. One specific point she made was that "not all taggers are trouble makers." I feel this is an important statement because many people in our society believe that all or most people who do graffiti are bad people. When in fact, most of them are just innocent kids that have only committed the crime of self-expression. For many teenagers vandalism is just a way for them to express themselves when they feel there is no other way to do it.
William Brotherson, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (S.O.C.E.S.)

I strongly disagree with the author of "Illegal expression." Tagging is illegal and not an appropriate way to express yourself. It defaces property and makes schools and even whole neighborhoods look bad. Tagging in a neighborhood can give it the appearance of being dangerous, crime-ridden and unfriendly to citizens. If you are feeling bad or depressed, and don’t want to talk about it, keep a journal or write poetry.
Philip George, S.O.C.E.S.

Dealing with stress

Stress is extremely important to me because I constantly have stress. The article "Relax" helped me think about stress and how it plays a major role in everyone’s life, especially for high school students. I personally have different techniques on how to relieve stress. I first start off by listening to motivating music really loudly on either a stereo or a CD player. Then, I look for a bat. I go outside with the bat in my hand and start hitting a baseball against the wall. I continue hitting the ball for approximately 45 minutes until I’m tired and ready to go back in my house. I shower to cleanse my body from all that sweat and play some more music, but this time down low. As I sit and think of what’s going on, I feel more calm and ready to sleep. At night, I sleep nice and warm snuggled in my bed.
Jesus Chacon, L.A. Trade Technical College

I can wait to party

I think this article couldn’t have been more true. Every party nowadays seems like it’s a scene from Mean Girls or Can’t Hardly Wait. I think it really gives out a message of how teens or young adults are easily influenced by what they see. If I have a party, we’re going to do something like a scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s so annoying at these "modern" parties; it’s like so many people are bored. Then why are they there? I don’t understand. They say these are the best years of our lives. I just want to make sure that I don’t spend all of it chatting about what Mary-Kate or Ashley did at some boring social where dudes end up chugging piña colada mix and Kool-Aid, pretending they are drunk.
Eilene Ly, Richard Gahr HS (Cerritos)

A boy who was gay felt alone because he was ridiculed

I enjoyed reading the article "Gay and so alone." I really admire Marvin for doing nothing dumb to himself. Most teens think about suicide or turn to drugs in order to ease the pain, especially when it comes to dealing with sexuality. I’m gay and I didn’t know that I was gay until I was in 9th grade. People tried to pick on me, but I wouldn’t let them. I would outsmart their dumb little comments like, "you’re such a fag," and "you’re gay." I think other gay kids shouldn’t allow themselves to be pushed around. It only lets people know you’re weak and you get picked on even more. Please tell Marvin Novelo that he’s a great guy, and that he shouldn’t feel bad about being gay.
Bryan G., Los Angeles HS

This article made me feel Marvin Novelo’s pain. I find it sad that he hated himself for who he is. It’s not his fault that he’s gay. I am one of many bisexual males that live in the world. Luckily I have found that "special someone" (in other words, I have a boyfriend!).

I’m so glad that there’s a gay-straight alliance but sadly, I didn’t join. I guess I’m still a little unsure about people’s reactions to my sexuality. Other people should not discriminate. I get really offended when people describe others as "gay" or "faggot."

I first realized that I was bi, when I found out that a friend was bi. After hearing her tell her story, I started exploring my own sexuality. That’s when I met my boyfriend. I’m so glad that I’m seeing him. I feel safe with him around.
Name withheld

It takes an incredible amount of courage to admit something like being homosexual. I truly admire Marvin for telling his story about being gay, and it makes me happy to know that there are people in this world who are willing to share their life stories with others. On the other hand, it saddens me to know that Marvin considered suicide because people were treating him so badly and calling him unnecessary names.

Marvin Novelo’s story made me think about our society today. Are we that bad that we have to treat a person differently just because they don’t act exactly like the rest of us? It astounds me that we cannot just accept people for who they are. There are different groups of people, yet our society does not appreciate the varied cultures. Next time you want to criticize someone for being different, put yourself in his or her shoes and see how it feels.
Brianna Miller, (S.O.C.E.S.)

Here are excerpts from other letters we received about Marvin’s story. The authors wanted their names withheld:

"Being bisexual myself, I understand what it feels like. … I don’t understand why people don’t accept people ‘like us.’ They shouldn’t judge us because of the way we think and feel."

"The article ‘Gay and so alone’ is a heartfelt story. It truly changed my views of gay people. … I learned that people that are gay, lesbian, bisexual or anything of the sort can be just as good or bad as people that are heterosexuals."

"I don’t think God made people gay because he hates them. I think he just did it so people would learn how to get along with all kinds of people and to make this world full of different people."

"My parents have a problem with homosexuality. It’s so hard for me to tell them some of my friends are gay. … Homosexuality shouldn’t be discriminated against and should be accepted, not hidden in the dark. If people were more accepting I think everyone would be much happier with who they are."

Using phrases like "that’s so gay" is hurtful

Connie Chung is right. It is a big deal when you say "That’s so gay." People at school say it all the time without realizing how demeaning it is. In the past I’ve laughed when someone made a comment about homosexuality. Now I feel terrible about doing it. Connie has made me realize that you should stop and think before you say things like that. Even if you’re joking it’s not cool.
Carla Guzman, Mid-City Magnet MS (Los Angeles)