An investigation has been opened in the Hanover Area School District, Pennsylvania, after an openly gay student alleged that a teacher filmed him dancing with his transgender partner at a school prom event and then showed that video to a science class in order to mock him and his date.
“It really hurt me to know that someone, I actually really trusted her, to know that she would do this,” said senior Jared Swank.
Swank, 18, said his senior prom over the weekend was a memorable one. The openly gay student at Hanover Area High School said he and his transgender female date enjoyed dancing the night away, but on Monday he said his prom experience took an ugly turn.
“I went to prom. One of the teachers took a video and put it on the whiteboard here at school and other students saw it and made comments,” added Swank.
Jared’ s mom said he has been bullied since eighth grade and this alleged incident was just another example.
“It hurt him, it hurt him. He was embarrassed, he was chastised. As a matter of fact, we just came from the gas station to get a drink before we got here and some of Hanover Area students yelled out the window, ‘(expletive).’ So that’s what it’s done. It’s antagonized more bullying,” said mother Dawn Mendygral.
Swank’s mother recently went before the school board to demand action over the alleged incident.
Mendygral said the video was brought to school by a Hanover Area teacher and played for the teacher’s science class.
“I have a real problem with that,” Mendygral said. “What I’m asking is what you’re going to do about this, what’s being done?”
Board President John Pericci said the board became aware of the situation today and, in accordance with policy, the superintendent would conduct a thorough investigation.
“Once we understand what has occurred, we will do interviews and we will also interview you and your son to understand your position and your statement and obviously the faculty involved and the students in the area,” Pericci said.
Mendygral said her son was at the meeting and willing to be interviewed then, but Pericci said that would not be necessary and suggested a meeting next week with Superintendent Anthony Podczasy.
The District does have a bullying policy which is also cyberbullying-inclusive.
However, the policy does not contain enumerated classes and therefore does not explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity-inclusive language.
There is, however, a focus on creating an inclusive environment with several schools having enacted SPIRIT programs which attempt to make students proud of their own identities and that reward respectful and tolerant behavior.
How this will square with procedural practice if the teacher in question is found to have acted in this manner remains to be seen.
The teacher’s name has not been disclosed while the internal investigation is ongoing.
Care2 will continue to follow this story as the investigation progresses.