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Daniel was making his dream come true until he was faced with homophobic bullying by his teacher. And he's not the only one

Daniel had been playing the violin from an early age. When he was about ten years old, he was noticed at a music competition by one of the teachers, so he switched to her as his violin teacher and had been taking lessons with her since. The approximately 60-year-old teacher prepared Daniel for studies at a music school. He began to improve immensely thanks to her lessons. “The first three years at the music school were great. I was spending around seven hours a week with her, sometimes more. She was like a grandma to me.” recalls Daniel, now twenty-one.  Everything changed when she found out he's gay.

Daniel realized his orientation at the age of seventeen when he was finishing his third year at the school. That same year, Daniel got a boyfriend. He was fulfilling his dream, only to have it crushed by the following year. All because the violin teacher found out about his orientation. “Our relationship began to worsen rapidly when she met my boyfriend. She occasionally interacted with him too. That's when the bullying gradually began,” says Daniel, adding that at the beginning it was just minor things and all the intrigues were relatively hidden. 


Scheming begins

For example, the teacher first changed the program at a concert and started to favor another student, who was younger and less skilled, at the expense of Daniel's success. She also demoted him from his position as the concertmaster of the school orchestra and slowly began to raise her expectations. Whenever Daniel spent any time with his boyfriend, the teacher indicated through her actions that his sole focus should be on practicing the violin.

“When I brought my boyfriend to school, she emphatically explained that she would report me, even though it was very common for straight couples to do the same. The string department was my home and she ruined it for me,” Daniel says. When he spoke out against the teacher, she turned the entire string department against him, even his friends, who condemned him for being gay.


She continued to cause problems

“It's awful that a person who was like a grandma to me would turn into such a monster,” Daniel admits. He had to leave the school and postpone taking the school leaving exam, which he later passed at a different music school. But thanks to her connections, the teacher was still able to interfere with Daniel’s studies even at the new school. “When I switched schools, I thought everything would be fine, but my former teacher was friends with the head of the string department, so the bullying continued,” Daniel shares. The department head recommended Daniel should get a 2 in his violin exam, even though she had no reason to do so and while every other student got a 1.

“It may seem like it's no big deal, but when you give a really good performance and people who were a lot worse than you get a 1, it takes a toll on you,” Daniel confides. “It was very humiliating to hear my grade read out in front of the others when they all had 1s. If you get a 2 in your instrument at a music school, you can't pass with distinction,” he adds.

Even though he finished his studies, he doesn't play the violin anymore. The experience has had a great impact on him. Even his psychological state, as he describes it, was significantly affected. Daniel has been seeing a psychiatrist ever since.


Daniel’s case is not unique

But he's not the only one though. A large number of LGBT+ pupils experience bullying by teachers at school. Some of their stories have been documented, for example, by the research conducted by the Public Advocate Anna Šabatová in 2019. “My teacher told me that homosexuality was an illness, so I asked him, if it was an illness, how should I cure it? He replied that there was no way to cure it except by being shot.” stated a bisexual woman participating in the research. 

Jana Soukupová, a psychologist at the Sbarvouven.cz counseling center, adds that it is not unusual for psychological problems to spiral after such experiences. “Young people carry some of their experiences of homophobic/transphobic behavior with them for the rest of their lives. It often damages the individual's psyche so severely that they might choose to escape the situation through self-harm or suicidal tendencies,” says Soukupová.

The Sbarvouven.cz counseling center has been helping teens for more than six years with not only self-acceptance and coming out, but also with more challenging topics like bullying or experiencing discrimination. We wish the stories of young gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, non-binary and queer people were happy ones. We don't want to have to witness any more tragic cases and wasted lives in Czechia. 

Join us in providing support to young people and back the operation of the counseling center again in the coming year. If you donate during the month of December, your donation will be doubled.

Author: Anna Pálová

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