As a former weird student, and current weird mother of two weird kids, I can only urge you to take this to heart. ‘Nerd’, ‘Jock’, and ‘dangerous loner’ aren’t the only options for school students, never have been. See the artist who expresses themselves not just on a screen or canvas, but of course in their clothes and hair. See the writer sat alone, watching, as the random bustle you see around them feeds them stories of dynasties rising, empires crumbling, sagas of love and vengeance.
I’m old enough and wise enough to handle (and judge) your treatment of us, but they aren’t. Tying their morality into their physical appearance confuses them.
Why have I started bleating about how much Black Lives Matter, among other things? Because as my girls get older and more expressive I’ve had to explain too many times why their friends have been told to stay away from them. Why horrible lies about them are believed. Why they don’t get many social invites. Why they get asked if I’ve been to prison. Why doctors insist on extra medical tests and subtle questions about parental abuse. Why we get followed around while shopping. Why strangers gasp and pull their children closer, sometimes feeling the need to say something loud enough for us to hear.
Imagine having no choice in that. I can cover my tattoos, I can dye my hair, I can dress more conventionally. Black people and other marginalised racial groups don’t have that option, understanding my privilege compared to their experience has been a tough but much needed lesson for me since we moved to America.