Dear Straight Talk: I am a short, small-boned sophomore with a high-pitched voice. I'm terrible at sports, and PE is a nightmare. The friend I hang out with is also small. Some macho guys have started rumors that we're gay and now everyone in school believes it. Our PE teacher has even made comments to this effect. We are shunned and have been physically attacked because of this. We are not gay. We are interested in girls, but they aren't interested in us. When I say I'm not gay they just laugh and say, "Then who is your girlfriend?" We are both A students and keep telling ourselves we will succeed where some of these losers will not. However, it is still a terrible situation for us. What can we do? - Small Town, Northern Calif.
Katelyn, 15, Huntington Beach, Calif.: My friend was accused of the same thing and he's not gay either. He told me he has no friends and is moving schools and to not talk to him anymore. It made me cry. Bullying is not OK. Go to your parents, your principal, whoever will listen.
Maureen, 17, Redding, Calif.: I was with Gay-Straight Alliance and we took a boy to the principal for attacking a gay kid. Gay or not, bullying is wrong. If you are being physically attacked, tell the administration.
Hannah, 16, Safford, Ariz.: The macho side can take over boys in high school. My stepfather was bullied too. His size made him ideal to pick on. But he persevered and got in better athletic shape than the bullies. Keep your head high.
Brie, 18, Ashland, Ore.: I know a guy in a similar situation. He stopped taking PE and other classes that put him on the spot. All I can suggest is hitting the gym.
Scot, 22, San Luis Obispo, Calif.: I'm not a big guy either and I hang out with a best guy friend. I was recently informed that everyone in my major "knows" I'm gay, and that it's OK. But I'm engaged to a girl! People make judgments. In high school, you may just have to stick it out.
Akasha, 16, Sacramento, Calif.: Keep your grades up. Start lifting weights. Keep insisting you aren't gay.
Leif, 20, Berkeley, Calif.: Don't let this rumor - or your physique, define you. Do things outside school. Diversify. Make sure no one thing can crush your self-confidence. It's hard to stand up to these guys, so don't. The important people will admire your resilience.
Graham, 16, Fair Oaks, Calif.: Talk to the school, but be careful. Confrontation can make things worse.
Gabriel, 19, Ashland, Ore.: People make fun of each other. Be the real man by acting strong and unaffected. Get the situation under control by telling a trusted adult.
Anjanette, 16, Safford, Ariz.: How unfortunate that a PE teacher is making comments. With macho guys, the more they can bother you, the more they will. Inform your parents and the principal.
Lennon, 23, Fair Oaks, Calif.: Report the violence and the gym teacher. A teacher poking fun at students for sexual orientation smells of a lawsuit.
Ashley, 22, Auburn, Calif.: Join a leadership group and start advocating against bullying.
Dear Small Town: Bullies exist because the "herd" supports them out of fear of being unpopular, and victims are silenced out of fear of revenge. Bullying is so prevalent, and largely unattended, that many teens feel the only solution is to stand tall, change classes, or hit the gym. But bullying is against the law. And it will persist until victims and their advocates demand justice. Tell your parents and the principal immediately. The bullies should be expelled, and the teacher too. If your school plays dumb, contact Child Protective Services, the police, or an attorney.
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