It’s something I never thought would be happening at my school, but then again I’m not very surprised. Our school community had always been accepting and respectful towards all student’s, but there were still conflicts and altercations between people.
On June 5th, the Queer Straight Alliance group (QSA), held a school assembly celebrating Pride Month and remembering those lost in the Orlando Shooting. Soon after the beginning of the presentation, some students started to get up and leave, stating they “just couldn’t watch it”. Though the audience, for the most part, was able to ignore it, presenters and other students said walking out during the presentation was rude.
The next day, on June 6th, homophobic students went around the halls, tearing down Pride posters and putting up “Straight is Great” and “Gay is not Okay” signs. A hand full of students were reportedly sent out of class for making homophobic remarks and threats. A student called another student whose apart of the LGBT community “a fag”. Fights and altercations broke out in the middle of the hallway, one person calling out “this school is anarchy!”.
These actions sparked aggression and disappointment in students. Our lack of school spirit hitting an all time low. Many students went to Facebook to express their opinions. One student stating, “I’ve never been more ashamed to attend and be considered a student at (school)”. Another saying “Nothing has ever made me want to hide in the closet more than I want to right now” and “It’s ridiculous kids can’t love who they want because they’re scared. People shouldn’t have to live in fear.”
Even though people were strongly offended by these students words, people were most hurt by the school administration doing nothing about the homophobic remarks and threats. Because of this, a few form’s of protest’s were planned. There was going to be a sit-in during second block in the lobby, then a walk-out, then people were going to put rainbow duct tape over their mouths to symbolize that others could say hurtful things but they wouldn’t say anything disrespectful back.
But before any protest’s were staged, on June 8th, the school principal made an announcement over the intercom, saying “We will do everything in our power to insure the safety and inclusiveness of all students. We are one community and hatred of any kind has no place at (school) and will not be tolerated. We can disagree, but we treat each other with kindness and empathy.” Though there were many rumors circulating, it is still unknown how these student’s were disciplined.
On Wednesday June 14th, the administration held a Student Forum, led by Outright Vermont, where students talked about how to make the school community more safe and supportive for everyone. The LGBT students spoke out on the struggles they had through out the year and the support they need from their peers and teachers. They discussed what changes needed to be made so issues like these could be resolved in the future and to make sure all student’s knew there was resources and people to talk to. Much progress was made to make the school community more safe and caring for the rest of year and future school years.
This said, there is a lot to be learned from all of this. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That being, for Gay rights or not, but there is a line between sharing your views and spreading hate. I never thought situations like these would be a problem at my school, but I had never realized my fellow peers being victimized. If you notice bullying happening, there is so much you can do to stop it and get help. And if your school is facing a similar school-wide issue, remember that your voice and opinion matter, and that you can stand up for what you think is right.