DEAR ABBY: I am a short, 5-foot-5-inch high school sophomore. I am small-boned and my voice is high-pitched. I'm terrible at sports, and physical education class is a nightmare. I have become friends with another guy, "Rick," who is much like me, and it helps to have someone who has similar problems.
Because Rick and I hang out together, some of the macho guys have started a rumor that we're gay, and now everyone in the school thinks it's true. Our PE teacher has even made comments to this effect, which compounds the problem.
Rick and I are shunned and have even been physically attacked because of this. We are not gay. We are just good friends who share common problems. We are interested in girls, but they aren't interested in us. When I try to say I'm not gay, they say, "Then who is your girlfriend?" When I tell them I don't have one, they laugh at me.
Rick and I are both "A" students. We keep telling ourselves that we will succeed where some of the macho guys who are obvious losers will not, and we'll have the last laugh. However, this is still a terrible situation for us, and we can't stand the thought of another two years like this. Please help. -- SOPHOMORE IN SACRAMENTO
DEAR SOPHOMORE: If you and your friend haven't already told your parents what's going on, do so immediately. Then you and your parents should pay a visit to the school principal to report that you have been attacked by other students and misidentified as gay not only by your peers, but also by a member of the staff.
It appears that both staff and student body in your school need to be educated about the fact that discrimination, assault and hate crimes are illegal. And if the harassment is not stopped immediately, your families should take this matter to a lawyer.