Pattern of Anti-LGBT Bullying and Harassment at a California High School

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There have been disturbing reports of “a pattern of bullying, harassment and discrimination against gay and lesbian students on campus” at a Southern California high school.

In a cross between Harry Potter and the Scarlet Letter, one student reported that a teacher wrote the letter “S” on her hand “repeatedly referred to the student, who was wearing a T-shirt that read ‘Gay is Good,’ as a sinner throughout class, according to a complaint with the district provided by a teacher.”

In another incident, the school’s GSA was “was forbidden last fall from sharing information during the school announcements about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month.” The students in the GSA, who wanted to “share information about prominent gay people,” were told that no announcements regarding any history month were permitted. “Then the Black Student Union did similar announcements during Black History Month in February.”

And one student who has been openly gay since his freshman year has been the subject of repeated bullying and harassment.

When a student with whom he’d had exchanges in the past uttered a gay slur at him during math class last fall, Andrew said he’d had enough. The two had an argument that resulted in Andrew’s suspension, he said.

After a second exchange with the student in December, which again began with the classmate using a gay slur, Andrew said he also was suspended. He learned he would face expulsion and was kicked off the school’s cheerleading squad. Andrew says the other student was not removed from a similar extracurricular activity or suspended.

Andrew acknowledges he used bad language but said he and the other student should have been disciplined equally.

The school district has taken some steps to address the problems–holding antibullying assemblies and encouraging students to intervene if they see bullying–but, with what looks like a pattern of bullying and harassment that includes both teachers and students, it appears that the complaints that the school district has not done nearly enough to change the anti-LGBT climate at the school have merit.

-Tony Infanti

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