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DEAR ABBY: My heart goes out to "Frightened but Curious," who not only had to endure being molested by a high school teacher, but also being ostracized by her peers. May I offer a point she might consider?

From her age, I'm guessing the incident happened 15 or 20 years ago. Back then, that kind of thing was often swept under the rug and not spoken about, which resulted in the ignorant belief that the victims were somehow to blame. Those cruel classmates most likely have children of their own by now, and will probably view her situation from an entirely different perspective. Society today is more enlightened about molestation and who the criminal really is.

Instead of letting what her classmates did all those years ago stop her from attending the reunion, she should go and, if anyone raises the issue, she will probably be pleasantly surprised by their mature and sympathetic attitude. I wish her a wonderful time. -- M.K. IN HOUSTON

DEAR M.K.: I received a ton of mail from supportive readers urging her to go. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I come from a small, rural town in Kentucky. During high school I did not have the easiest time. You see, I am gay. It was widely suspected in high school, and I had my share of teasing.

After graduation I married a girl from my class only to have a daughter and divorce shortly thereafter. At 22, I finally came out of the closet, and shortly after, met the man of my dreams. We've been together more than 16 years and I'm very happy. My daughter, husband and I live together, and my life is better than I ever thought it could be.

As I began planning our 20-year high school reunion, I was able to reconnect with all 120 students from my class. Time has changed us all. Some of the guys who gave me a hard time back then have already apologized, and two of the biggest football players took me aside last week and told me that if anyone "bothered me" at the reunion I should let them know!

We grow up a lot after getting out of the fishbowl of high school. I say, go back. Dance, laugh, catch up with your friends and celebrate your youth. You will be surprised how the "big world" irons out our differences and makes us wise! -- TAB IN ILLINOIS

DEAR ABBY: I also had some very cruel classmates in high school, and had similar doubts for different reasons. I was the class "intellectual" and couldn't wait to get away to college, where I was happy for the first time in my life. I had been beaten up and my personal possessions had a way of turning up -- if at all -- in others' lockers. In addition, I was called every anti-Semitic epithet in the book.

My husband and I went to my 20th reunion looking like a million. I organized a get-together that brought several of my best friends back, and we attended as a group. Most important, though, was learning that the worst of my tormentors was dumped just before college graduation by her boyfriend of 10 years, who then married her best friend. She got married on the rebound and couldn't come to the reunion because her husband had given her twin shiners in honor of the occasion. Don't use my name, please. Sign me ... SCHADENFREUDE IN SALEM

CONFIDENTIAL TO PAULINE PHILLIPS IN MINNEAPOLIS: Happy birthday to the dearest mother in all the world. Watch the sky tonight because all the fireworks are for you!

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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