Shark Stories- Kathryn Pierson (9)

Lauren Bulanek, Staff Writer

Kathryn Romina Pierson, Mina for short, is a 9th grade student at Santiago High School. Besides dealing with the general dynamic of a high school, Mina is an open LGBTQ+ student that has faced sexual harassment, ignorance, and obstacles with her health, just like most Santiago High School students. However, Mina faces her problems in a way that is much different from most Santiago High School students.

When I asked Mina the one thing she wants people to know, she told me, “Don’t be afraid to be yourself. People are going to give you hate no matter what you do or who you are. You can’t let that get to you. What matters is that you’re happy with yourself. Just simply be yourself.”

The following transcript has been edited for clarity:

Interviewer: “How would you describe your life?”
Mina: “It’s very interesting.”
Interviewer: “Can you elaborate on that?”
Mina: “I just wanted to be raised like a normal kid. I was constantly traveling or going in and out of hospitals. Me and my siblings have big age gaps so I didn’t really see them until I was older or on holidays. We never had traditions. Our family was never very full, people constantly left. On the other hand, I had opportunities to go and interview bands for the magazine I help out at, called Amped Magazine. I’ve also grown close with my brother and sister. I’ve become more open about aspects of my life; even though that has brought some bad times it’s also helped me realize who my real friends are and now I’m actually happy.”

Interviewer: “What are your hopes and dreams for the future?”
Mina: “I would like to be an astronomer. My ideal job would be to work for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). That would be amazing, to say the least.”

Interviewer: “What do you hope to study during your high school career?”
Mina: “I’m very interested in learning more about biology and astronomy.”

Interviewer: “What is your take on Santiago High School?”
Mina: “It is much better than my old school, generally people are much more kind. If I could change something about the school, I’d make it possible to make sure certain people aren’t in my classes.”

Interviewer: “How come?”
Mina: “The reason I’d change certain kids in my classes is because at the middle schools I went to I had some pretty bad experiences with some students. I’d rather be able to focus on my work, rather than who is sitting next to me and what they are going to do to me next. I feel as in certain cases students should choose to have certain students in their classes. Students should feel safe in their classes, rather than terrified. School is a place where you should learn and feel safe.”

Interviewer: “How do you feel about being an open LGBTQ+ student?”
Mina: “I feel gay (meaning happily excited as defined by Merriam Webster).”

Interviewer: “Do people ever treat you differently due to your sexuality?”
Mina: “When people find out I’m a lesbian I get different reactions. When it comes to males, they usually say something stupid, such as, ‘I dare you to kiss that girl’, or, ‘Are you sure you aren’t bi’ Sometimes I get comments that are on the verge of being sexual harassment, such as, ‘It’s because you haven’t had good sex’, or, ‘I can turn you straight’. It’s mostly irritating because I rather not deal with it. I am more than my sexuality. When it comes to certain women, they say things such as, ‘Well, we can be friends. Just don’t flirt with me or catch feelings.’ This gets to me because I’d rather be talking to my girlfriend rather than an ignorant person who assumes that just because I like girls, I like every girl. Yet again, it has its perks. I get to meet people who are in the LGBTQ+ community and we get to bond about issues in the LGBTQ+ community but in society itself.”

Interviewer: “Based on your experience, how would you advise someone to handle bullying for who they are?”
Mina: “Tell someone you trust, preferably an adult that can help you handle the situation. If you feel like you cannot do that, try to safely comfort the issue yourself. Use your words to deal with your problems and don’t let the situation get physical. If it does get physical, get out of it before anyone gets hurt. Don’t let the bullies get you down. When you do, you’re letting them win. They hate you for who you are because they’re insecure about their own identity. They hurt others, whether it is emotionally or physically, in order to help make them feel better. What’s important is that you don’t let them get to you, and keep moving forward.”