The Press-Enterprise reports that a number of complaints have been filed in the Perris Union High School District where students and teachers have said that anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination by pupils and even some teachers is a serious problem, including one alleged incident where a teacher drew an “S” on a student’s hand and called her a sinner throughout class because she wore a “Gay is Good” t-shirt.
Other incidents that have been reported include a student group being barred from celebrating LGBT History Month even though other student groups were allowed to hold special events such as one in support of Black History Month. The school involved said that permission for a Black History Month celebration had been a mistake, citing that it doesn’t allow any events of this kind and therein saying that this wasn’t a case of discrimination but miscommunication. Students disagreed.
Another case that has prompted an ACLU investigation occurred when an openly gay student was suspended after using bad language while confronting another student that had harassed him for being gay. The other student was not suspended even though he reportedly used a gay slur, and while the gay-identifying kid is now back in school, he remains unable to take part in extracurricular activities even while the other student is able to do so.
These incidents, The Press-Enterprise reports, are being taken “very seriously” by school administrators:
Teachers and students took their concerns to Paloma Valley administrators, the school board and the ACLU. District officials say they are addressing the complaints.
“We take them very, very seriously,” said Leslie Ventuleth, spokeswoman for the Perris Union High School District and its chief human resources officer.
District officials have taken several steps to improve the climate at Paloma Valley, Ventuleth said. The school now has a Peer Leadership Uniting Students program, which encourages students to intervene if they see harassment or bullying. The school also held recent anti-bullying assemblies.
District officials are considering more anti-bullying training for students and staff and working to expand programs to other district high schools, Ventuleth said.
As mentioned above, the ACLU has now begun an investigation.
The State of California has some of the toughest anti-bullying laws in America and is one of only a handful of states to have LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying legislation. Questions will be raised, therefore, on how to effectively enforce those laws so as to prevent incidents like these.
As to the teacher who wrote an “S” on a child’s hand, the school district has reportedly dealt with the matter, though it is unclear what disciplinary action, if any, was taken:
In one instance, a teacher drew an “S” on a student’s hand and 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.
The complaint, dated Oct. 14, detailed the incident. In the document, provided with names blacked out, the student wrote, “I’ve heard this has happened before.”
You can read more details about these incidents at The Press-Enterprise article here.
This comes as the White House just last week opened its doors for a conference on bullying prevention. The Obama administration also launched the stopbullying.gov website.
The website provides information on how to deal with bullying for teens, young adults, parents, educators and also provides a page on community actions too. There are also dedicated pages dealing with cyberbullying and anti-LGBT.
Read more about the White House anti-bullying conference here.
The Student Non-Discrimination Act, a bill to tackle anti-LGBT bullying and institutionalized homophobia in schools, was recently introduced in Congress. Read more about the legislation here.
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