An Unfair Suspension
A dress. That’s what they’d suspended his son for. The dad’s nostrils flared, and he cut off the principal while he was still speaking.
With cold, flinty eyes, he took a steady step back, cracking his fingers as he exited the office. He’d promised his son that the harassment would stop. He was going to see that promise through.
But for high school junior Henri McGregor, this was supposed to be among the best years of his high school career. He’d just turned sixteen and had finally decided to come out to his parents and friends.
The support he’d gotten was overwhelming, and many around him congratulated him for finally accepting himself. But none of them could’ve guessed that such a momentous occasion would result in disaster.
A Good Kid
Henri had always been a great kid. He had excellent grades at school, a wonderful and equally supportive friend group, and the kindest heart a teenager could have.
His parents had long been proud of him, knowing he was meant to do great things. So when his dad heard what Henri was going through in school, he knew he couldn’t just sit back and watch.
A Great Rift
But this disaster, which could have easily been avoided, seemed to crop out of nowhere. Henri’s dad, Chris McGregor, was the last person Henri thought would come to his rescue.
The two of them had long butted heads over different views and preferences. But the rift between them seemed to have expanded after Henri came out as pansexual.
Although Chris didn’t say it directly, Henri could feel disappointment in his dad when he shared the news that he was attracted to people regardless of sex or gender.
A military vet, Chris was raised in a staunch Christian home. He couldn’t even look his son in the eyes after the news. But Henri would soon learn that he had misjudged his dad’s perception of him. But by then, it would be too late.
The Birthday Party
This issue began with Henri’s birthday party, which his family had thrown for him at the local Cheesecake Factory in the small town of Leavenworth, Washington.
Most of Henri’s friends attended the party, joining his family in the momentous celebration. But it wouldn’t be long before everything took a dark turn, the joy turning into pure dread.
The party was going great when Henri said he had something he wanted everyone to know. That’s when he came out, surrounded by the most important people in his life.
But amid the flashing cameras from his friend’s phones and the constant cheers from his siblings and mom, he felt a cold stare settle on him. If only he knew how all this would end.
The man staring at Henri was his dad. He stood frozen as if the news had taken his mind and spirit and flung them into a different universe.
It took the efforts of his youngest daughter, Henri’s little sister, to shake him back to reality. Watching the chaos of his friends and family, Henri knew life would never be the same again.
Is He A Disappointment?
The party came to a beautiful close hours later, and everyone went home. Henri expected his dad to call him over for a chat, to yell at him for his life choices, but none of that happened.
In fact, the man went straight to his room and never came out, which was worse for Henri because he didn’t know what was happening in his dad’s head. He’d never meant to disappoint him this much.
Making Him Proud
As a child, Henri had always striven to make his dad proud. Everything he did, from working hard in class to being the best lacrosse player in school, was to honor the man who fathered him into this world.
He’d always dreaded a day when his dad would look at him with disappointment in his eyes. Standing alone in the living room, he wondered if that day was here. If only he knew what terrifying nightmares and misfortunes were about to befall him.
Henri spent the rest of the weekend alone in his room, occasionally moving about the house to try and collide with his dad. He wanted a reaction – any kind– anything to tell him where his dad stood with this decision.
But his father never came out of his room, leaving Henri with nothing but pain and guilt. But unknown to him, something else was already brewing elsewhere, a problem that would land his dad in a courtroom.
You see, at the birthday party, those few friends with their phones out had recorded Henri as he came out to them and his family. It was a proud moment to behold, so they posted the videos on their social media.
But with how popular Henri was at school, it didn’t take long before every student at Golden Oak Academy knew that he was pansexual. Additionally, each member of the faculty got wind of the news.
Among these was the principal, Mr. Davis, who didn’t waste a second summoning Henri to his office first thing on Monday. You see, Golden Oak was a religious school built on the tenets of the Catholic church.
So when the principal heard that one of his students had publicly come out, he feared the school would take a negative hit. That’s when he did the unthinkable.
The principal asked Henri to go back on his statement, to tell the school that he’d been joking when he came out on his birthday. Failure to do so would result in the school asking him to go home for the day.
Henri couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He tried to argue his case, saying the information from his birthday was meant for the people closest to him. He hadn’t meant for any of it to take the school by storm. So what did the principal do?
Which Is Better?
Mr. Davis insisted on his decision being final. Henri would either retract his ‘coming out’ statement or go home and return with his parents the next day.
Knowing that he and his dad hadn’t even discussed the matter, Henri found himself between a rock and a hard place. He knew he couldn’t go back on his statement because this was who he truly was.
But he couldn’t disappoint his dad further than he already had by getting kicked out of school. What else could he do?
Henri tried to plead his case with the principal. He even got the help of the head boy and girl, two of his closest friends, to speak for him. But the principal would remain unmoved.
By the end of the hour, Henri would find himself walking home alone. His mom had promised she was on her way from work to pick him up. But Henri would soon learn that something far worse was already on its way.
It’s His Dad
Henri froze as he saw his dad’s car pull from the corner instead of his mom’s. It parked beside him, his dad not even bothering to open the door for him.
Henri got in, his heart pounding as sweat drenched his fidgeting fingers. Scowling, his dad pulled the car back into the road. Today would be one for the books.
Henri had thought his dad would yell at him. The man had seemed angry, his jaw ticking and his grip so tight around the steering wheel that his knuckles had turned white.
Instead, he let out a long silent sigh, asking, “Did he hurt you in any way?” “The principal?” Henri asked, taken aback. “Yes,” his dad said. He’d reveal the truth about how he truly felt about Henri’s coming out.
The Reason Behind His Behavior
“I feared this would happen,” Henri’s dad said, sharing that his world had turned on its head with worry the moment Henri came out as pansexual.
“I knew the town would come for you… I’m afraid I might not be here to watch over you all the time.” He was rigid as he spoke, as if the words themselves gored the insides of his being.
He’d always been a hardy man who rarely showed any emotion. So to see him open up like this had Henri tearing up. If only he knew what lengths his dad would take to protect him.
A Bad Day Turned Good
Henri and his dad went to the mall that day instead of back home. They watched a movie and went bowling, spending the day as father and son in a way they hadn’t in years.
They talked about everything they’d been through, from every little fight that had pushed them apart to every victory that had pleaded with them to mend their bridges. But their biggest nightmare was still before them.
A Good Bond
On their way back home that evening, Henri’s dad told him to stand tall and be proud of who he was. He agreed to take Henri to school the following morning, promising to iron everything out with the principal.
“I’ll never let any of them bully you again,” he said. But he had no idea that his son would do something the school would consider radical, ultimately having the principal suspend him.
Back To School
Henri and his dad marched into the principal’s office the next day. They had a lengthy conversation, where Henri’s dad pointed out that the school had students from all walks of life and religious backgrounds.
Why was the principal singling out Henri out of the hundreds of kids? Mr. Davis wiped the sweat on his forehead as he listened, knowing Henri’s dad was right. But he wouldn’t go down without swinging.
Go To Class
“Fine, fine,” he said. Turning to a smiling Henri, who couldn’t believe his dad had actually come through for him, the principal said, “Don’t you have an English class you should be attending right now, Mr. McGregor?” “I do,” Henri said and hurried out.
He’d never seen his dad stand up for him this way and couldn’t stop smiling throughout the day. But the week wouldn’t end before trouble came knocking.
It Finally Happens
It was a fine Thursday morning when it happened. Looking to express himself that day, Henri had worn a beautiful sun dress with wedges and his long hair tied up.
In a school where some students came with nothing but vests and short shorts, his dress wouldn’t be breaking any rules. But Principal Davis would think otherwise.
He’s Not Breaking Any Rules
Henri’s dress didn’t break a single rule in the school’s dress code. A bright shade of red, it was long and flowing, nearly kissing the ground when he stood.
The neckline was perfect, too, barely dropping past his clavicles. He never thought it would land him in trouble until the principal came for him in class. The terrible end was here.
With fury in his eyes, the principal hissed that Henri should go home and change. He would not have a boy wear a dress in school. He went as far as telling Henri to change his hairstyle as well, terming it as too feminine.
“You will not confuse the other students with all this…” he said. Each of those words came as a blow to Henry, yet, despite the emotions rocking him, he got up from his seat and calmly exited the classroom.
Henri called his dad, explaining what had happened. He felt like his tears would overwhelm him, yet he remembered his dad telling him he needed to be strong.
The principal came and found him still in the school. Frothing at the mouth, he grabbed Henri by the hand, dragging him to his office.
He took out a suspension slip, wrote the boy’s name, signed it, and slapped it onto the table. “There. I’m suspending you,” he snarled. “See you in two weeks. Come dressed like this again, and I’ll expel you.”
Pick On Someone Your Own Size
Henri couldn’t believe what had happened. But he’d not canceled the call, and his dad listened in on everything unfolding.
By the time Henri stepped out of the school’s entrance, his dad was already marching up the parking lot, his fists balled and chest moving up and down as he tried to contain his anger.
“What did you say to my son!” he roared as he barged into the principal’s office, uncaring that the entire school was watching him.
A Cold Stare
The principal stammered, saying he didn’t mean to say such mean things to Henri. But Chris McGregor wasn’t one to let things slide so easily. His nostrils flared, and he cut off the principal while he was still speaking, trying to justify why it was okay for other kids to wear what they wanted but not Henri.
Chris needn’t remind him that public schools cannot enforce a dress code based on gender- or race-based stereotypes about appropriate dress or appearance.
With cold, flinty eyes, he took a steady step back, cracking his fingers as he exited the office. The principal would regret ever doing this to his son.
Going To War
Chris McGregor began a year-and-a-half-long revenge plot that broke the principal mind piece by piece. A master of intimidation, he would drop and pick Chris up every day from school, ensuring he passed by the principal’s office to either smile maniacally or coldly stare at the man.
Sometimes he’d step into the office menacingly just to grin and walk away. But unknown to him, the principal, too, had been working on his revenge, one that would land Chris inside a courtroom.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.