Has Anti-LGBTQ+ Bullying Reached a New Level?

Victoria Price, writer

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Has Anti-LGBTQ+ Bullying Reached a New Level?

By Victoria Price

 

On Friday, April 5th, a handful of students at Kickapoo High School broke the hearts of thousands of people in and out of the LGBTQ+ community when a teenage boy ripped a Day of Silence poster off of the banister on the second floor. He threw it down to his friends while others started cheering below. The Gay-Straight-Trans Alliance students who helped to make the posters were devastated and some took to facebook to talk about the event.

A Kickapoo student, Autumn Neff, made a social media statement on the day of the incident. A full version will be tagged below:

“Today at Kickapoo High School, posters were put up on a balcony to advertise a spirit week that was LGBTQ+ themed. There was representation for everyone on these posters, the straight flag included. LGBTQ+ teenagers had worked for hours on these. A different theme was for each day, Monday as gender flip, Tuesday to wear your pride flag colors, Wednesday to wear formal attire, Thursday to wear rainbow, and Friday to wear all black for the day of silence.”

The Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) annual event of action to spread awareness about the effects of the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students. Participants are asked to take a day-long vow of silence to symbolically represent the silencing of LGBTQ students around the world.

Neff continues, “One boy decided that he was better [than us]. He walked up to the balcony, took one of the flags that people had worked so hard on, ripped it apart, and threw it into a trash can. In response, most of the people in the cafeteria started to clap, to cheer on the hateful boy that had just hurt LGBTQ+ students more than anyone could know. He only got two days of out of school suspension. The principal had said he wished he could do more but he had to follow the handbook, which I understand. In the hallways, I heard many groups of students laughing about it. Talking about how happy they were that the disgusting flag was ripped apart, as if we didn’t matter. The video was shared and laughed at. I am tired of being hated on for existing. This was utterly disgusting as well as heart breaking. I am almost completely sure that nothing will change. All we ask for is to be treated with respect, like anyone else. I don’t care what you believe, there’s no reason to be hateful about something we can’t change. Please just be kind.”

This teen’s words have been spread all over facebook and has sparked a lot of support for the school’s LGBTQ+ students. Many other gay-friendly centers are speaking out as well, including the GLO center, a group for LGBTQ+ support and togetherness. One of the members of the board, Krista Moncado, wrote on their facebook page, “Hey, I know the issues at Kickapoo are disheartening and unsettling. Please remember you are not alone, you have trusted adults around you. If you’re at school and feeling unsafe, talk to a teacher or counselor you trust. Post here if you need some love from a facilitator. Remember you are loved, and you are beautiful and perfect just the way you are.”

A video surfaced of the incident and was published on an Instagram account made that day called “Straight Pride”. It had over 100 followers in the hours after it was published. Many of the first comments on the video called the boy a “true hero” and a “good man” but as more people found out about the video, it was taken over with others showing their support of the GSTA and shaming the kids who played a part in this.

The school responded properly and swiftly and gave the two children responsible for the account, video, and incident two days suspension. Many people applauded the school’s reactions and gave praise to the kids who volunteered to help the GSTA make “bigger and brighter posters” to replace the ones that were destroyed. However, the LGBTQ+ children of Kickapoo are still deeply upset and disturbed by this event and many are worried about what this will mean in the long run.

Shortly after that Friday response, when the new posters were finally on the banister, another student tore them down, repeating the process. It is unknown if this student received suspension as well but we do know that as a result of this incident repeating, all posters and banners have been banned at the school. Hopefully, this turns out to be true for everyone and not just for the GSTA students.

Other GSAs across the state are talking to their students about this event including ours here at Hillcrest. The Hillcrest GSA met Wednesday, the 10th and discussed what was happening. They debated putting up posters and regularly checking to make sure they were still up. This incident has struck a chord in the hearts of many LGBTQ+ children and adults across southern Missouri.

 

Link to the full quote by Autumn Neff:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dCib7uK2_B2PMvMDDOShj4ekSecupl6ay9QMpNu2fLY/edit?usp=sharing