New Jersey Students Stage Walkout in Support of Teacher

Four students at a New Jersey high school were suspended after 200 staged a walkout to protest the school’s decision to withdraw an offer of tenure to a popular teacher who had objected to anti-gay slurs in her classroom. Cheryl Bachmann reportedly fought to have one of the students who had made a slur permanently removed after the student “was heard screaming in the high school’s hallways, using expletives and threatening to stab Bachmann.”

West_milfordAccording to The Record, “Students planned the protest after learning Bachmann was told in late April she probably will not be offered tenure. This decision followed an initial indication in March that Bachmann would be asked to remain at the high school. During the month in between, Bachmann had asked two students to leave her class on two separate occasions after she said they both used a derogatory word for a homosexual. According to her, one of the students hit her in the head with a rolled-up gum wrapper on his way out and the female student later threatened to stab Bachmann.”

Although the incidents appeared to have some connection with the school’s withdrawal of their tenure offer, according to the paper, “administrators say they can’t speak about individual teachers or students, but a memo obtained by The Record said there were ‘serious concerns about her classroom management and ability to effectively control and tolerate unacceptable behavior.'” The students who were suspended on Tuesday, according to a school official “used profanity, were climbing on each other’s shoulders and out of control” during the walkout.

Comments

  1. pacificoceanboy says

    Support for a teacher gets you suspended BUT threatening to stab a teahcer and hurling a projectile towards a teachers head and……… What the heck happened to those 2 students? Oh yeah, they were used to punish the teacher.

  2. Zeke says

    They aren’t offering her tenure because “there were ‘serious concerns about her classroom management and ability to effectively control and TOLERATE UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR'”. [EMPHASIS mine]

    Are they friggin serious with this? There were serious concerns with her ability to effectively tolerate unacceptable behavior?

    Could one of our “blame the homo first” friends here please explain what that means and why we shouldn’t be outraged by it?

    It seems that the message here is, if you want tenure you must ignore bullying and homophobia like the rest of the teachers. If you recognize it, address it, challenge it and punish it, you will be labeled a “trouble maker” and dealt with accordingly.

  3. Matt says

    200 people walked out and only 4 were suspended. Maybe these students were causing a disturbance? I don’t believe they deserved suspension for using profanity and climbing on shoulders. I think detention would have sufficed.

    In regards to the teacher not receiving tenure, my mother has worked for the school system for over 20 years and says that in this day and age parents are so “sue happy” that it’s just easier to replace a teacher than getting an already financially strapped school system into a legal battle with parents.

  4. Matt says

    I would just like to add that I think it sucks that a school system won’t stick by it’s teachers b/c they are afraid of getting sued.

  5. Zeke says

    A friend of mine from church called me in tears this morning because her son is being harassed and bullied relentlessly, on a daily basis, by kids calling him “gay”, “fag” and Nazi (they are German). He is physically assaulted regularly and his school work is stolen, ripped up and thrown in the trash. He has been terrorized by these kids but when he reported it to his teacher he was told to toughen up and stop being a tattle tale. Once the bullying kids found out that the teacher said this they became even more abusive and the bullied child, feeling abandoned and helpless, suffered in silence, EVEN afraid to tell his parents what was happening to him.

    This kid has an IQ of 130 and is an absolute Einstein when it comes to science yet his parents were told last night that he is getting an F in Science. When they asked their som what happened he said that the boys were taking his work and destroying it and even though the teacher was fully aware of it he wouldn’t do anything about it. When my friends met with the teacher last night they realized that he was a raging homophobe who suspected that their son was gay and because of this he was ignoring the abuse he was being subjected to.

    By the way, all of this is happening at a MAGNET school for the gifted. I can’t imagine what happens in regular public schools.

    The kid, as far as we know, isn’t even gay. Homophobia and homophobic bullying isn’t just a problem for gay kids. It is a daily nightmare for thousands of children, gay and straight, and it is a problem that is largely ignored.

    This story about the teacher being punished for standing up against bullying just sends the message to bigoted teachers that the system is on their side and it sends a message to other teachers to keep quiet and don’t get involved when they see bullying, particularly homophobic bullying, or they may lose their tenure, their job and or their livelihood.

    Something’s gotta give!
    The saddest and sickest thing about this is that fundamentalist Christians are the number one supporters of maintaining this system of unchecked harassment and bullying.

    At some point some kid cracks and goes on a shooting spree and ALL OF THE SUDDEN there’s outrage.

    It’s time for us to get outraged NOW about what’s happening to our kids in our schools and what’s happening to teachers who are trying to protect and support them.

  6. Matt says

    I hear you loud and clear Zeke. I would also like to add that it’s not only fundamentalist christians. In my area, it’s also the black community and what I call “the redneck community”. I find it funny that these two groups hate each other but find common ground on hating gays or anyone who shows a more femine side when some of them are on the down low as they call it. It’s a shame.

  7. Adam says

    Wow, Zeke. I feel awful for that kid. Where in the US is the family living?
    I think focusing on gay youth and the harassment they face should be our number one issue, definitely before the military issue and maybe gay marriage. These kids are going through hell and we need to help.

  8. shane says

    What ghetto town in NJ was this? Probably where I live – Hudson County. Blech.

    Zeke – not just the fundamentalist Christians. Talked to a black or Catholic teacher lately?

  9. shane says

    What ghetto town in NJ was this? Probably where I live – Hudson County. Blech.

    Zeke – not just the fundamentalist Christians. Talked to a black or Catholic teacher lately?

  10. Leland says

    Well put as always, Zeke. This is just another variation on the recent story of the journalism teacher in Indiana who in order to keep her family’s roof over their head and food on the table was forced to apologize to the local SS, excuse me, school board, for the crime of allowing one of her students to write a little trifle of an appeal for tolerance for LGBT students. Of course, she was forced to move to a different school, lose a week’s pay, and not allowed to teach journalism for three years. I guess that’s a “TUI” in Indiana—Teaching Under the Influence of REAL Christianity not the American Taliban version.

    Calling someone a “fag” apparently isn’t “profanity” in this New Jersey school, and like the Good Nazis that they are, the administration cares more about “cuss words” and their concept of keeping order than flagrant bigotry and intimidation. Kinda like Germany in the early 30s in which no one would ever think of going against the status quo but harassing Jews was OK. When I visited Dachau years ago, one of the things I learned was that there were very exact written rules about how the inmates were to behave, including exactly where to place their individually issued food bowl and other items, and they could be punished for, e.g., being off by a few inches. [Dachau was not originally meant to be a death camp but a training camp for the system.] Still the inmates had been ripped from society without a single civil right left but even for them “order” had to be maintained. Sieg Heil!

    Zeke, I’m sure you are a great source of comfort to your friends, but I urge you to discourage them from believing that all they need do is be patient and kind and “the good” in the bigots at their son’s school will spontaneously sprout. Even if that were to eventually happen, their son’s torment would continue in the meantime.

    Please encourage them to immediately contact Equality Florida and/or Lambda Legal and/or the ACLU to identify any known local gay or gay-friendly attorney and threaten to sue the school for failure to provide an environment in which their son can learn and, generally, protect him. As you’re probably aware, there is a great deal of legal precedent in this area, the most outstanding being the case of the student [Nabozny?] who won several hundred thousand dollars in settlement [even after he was no longer a student as I recall]. Sometimes just a letter from an attorney can part the waters. But Florida being Florida, and this situation occuring even at an exceptional school, they are likely to initially meet even further resistance to change. But, as Matt observed, the SERIOUS threat of legal action more often than not works. And it will only be believed if the parents determine to follow it through all the way. There might even be grounds to sue the parents of the students harassing their son.

    I realize that, for a time, there is the risk of making things worse for him, just as his own gentle complaint did, but, fortunately it is the end of the school year and the legal threat/action can be pursued over the summer. At the very least, with no confidence that things will be better in the fall, read SAFER, they should not send their son back to that school no matter how academically appealing it is. And, as you implied, his actual orientation is irrelevant and that point should be repeated again and again in any discussion about it so as not to add to his stress.

  11. Landis says

    I think gay people in US are just tired of the fight. I met a couple (very nice people) from Boston, and they have no intentions to do anything about fighting prejudice. They said they are *tired* of the fight and just want to *left alone*.

    I cant argue with that, given the kind of legalized intolerance Americans have against any sort of diversity.

  12. anon says

    And what utopian realm do you come from, Landis?

    I think the victim of bullying in Zeke’s case should simply call the police and have the kids charged with assault. Suing the school is a slow process that merely results in a financial payout.

  13. Zeke says

    This school is in Florida. At this point I don’t want to divulge the name of the city or the name of the school because I don’t want people contacting them and exacerbating the situation before we’ve had an opportunity to address it through official channels. We are in the process of contacting Equality Florida and the ACLU for help and advice.

    We would welcome ANY suggestions or legal advice.

    Trust me, if we don’t get satisfaction, I will publish ALL the details and sick the Towleroad hounds on them!

    Matt and others are right; I shouldn’t have singled out fundamentalist Christians as if they are the only ones who have promoted bullying by fighting anti-bullying measures. Many faith groups as well as other groups have contributed.

    As a Christian, I take particular offense to people who use the Christian faith, MY faith, to justify hate or to justify ignoring harassment and violence, ESPECIALLY when it is directed at innocent children.

  14. Landis says

    Anon:
    Toronto – where we have recently passed an anti-bullying law for all schools which includes electronic bullying (emails, social network websites, phone etc).

    The problem is, I think, the lack of respect from enforcement agencies to enforce such rules. Tell the police? They might just laugh in your face.

  15. Zeke says

    Thanks for the advice Leland. We have had a call into Equality Florida (to which I AND this straight family belong) since early this morning (no call back as of yet). We didn’t think about Lambda Legal. We’ll check that out as well.

    Trust me, we aren’t going to let this rest. The family is German and have been a bit timid in rocking the boat in rural America. They already have to deal with being called Nazis.

    I didn’t know anything about the bullying until a few weeks ago. I had already started the process of informing Equality Florida. Evidently this has been going on for at least TWO YEARS. Not until last night did the parents realize the extent of the abuse. That’s because their son was too scared and ashamed to tell them, especially after his teacher ridiculed him for speaking up about it.

    Unfortunately for them, papa Zeke has gotten wind it.

    Make no bones about it, I’ll be this school’s WORST nightmare!

    Anyone who thinks there is no fury like a woman scorned ain’t never seen a PISSED OFF, homa-SEK-shul, Mississippi, redneck father’s sh*t hit the fan!

  16. Leland says

    Lambda Legal has a “Help Desk” [description below]. http://www.lambdalegal.com:

    “How the Help Desk Works
    Lambda’s Legal Help Desk staff respond directly to members of our communit(ies) who are seeking legal information and assistance with discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status. To the extent that our resources and priorities allow, Lambda Legal takes on legal representation of callers whose situations present impact litigation issues; for many others, Lambda Legal provides leads to other organizations and practical information that might help them address their problems. We also provide a list of suggested questions to ask a prospective attorney. If you would like more information or to request assistance, please call the office which serves your state [see below for Florida-related contact info]. Please note that help desk hours are subject to change.

    The Help Desk frequently receives inquiries from people with similar questions, or who are facing similar issues, so you may wish to check our list of Commonly Requested Resources and Publications [none of these address school issues] before contacting the Help Desk to see if you can find the information you need.

    SOUTHERN REGIONAL OFFICE IN ATLANTA COVERING FLA ISSUES Help Desk Hours:
    Mondays — 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    Wednesdays — 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    Thursdays — 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
    Call 404-897-1880 and ask for the Help Desk.

  17. Zeke says

    Thanks Leland, I’ve made the contact. They are in meetings right now so I left a message with the voicemail.

    I am going to tell my friend about this website and about this discussion when she gets home later this afternoon. Any words of support and encouragement that you might have for her, her husband and their son would be appreciated.

    She is a tireless supporter of gay rights and equality. She, her husband and their family go with me and my family to EVERY gay rights and Pride event that we attend.

    It would warm my heart to see our Towleroad community stand up for them and show our support for them just as they have so unselfishly done for us so many times in the past.

  18. Leland says

    Trust me y’all. This is a step-by-step “textbook” example of what typically happens. I have read similar stories over and over and over, and, as suggested, they are just the ones we hear about; the proverbial tip of the iceberg of homohatred. From the school’s complicity to the victim’s fear of telling their parents [“What if they think I AM gay?” “I don’t want to cause trouble.” “It wouldn’t do any good.”]. Branded on my brain is the story of the kid in a small town in Canada a few years ago. His parents didn’t find out that he’d been harassed for two years until his mother looked out their kitchen window and saw his body hanging from a large tree in their backyard. Driven to suicide to stop the pain HE WAS 15 YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!! And the story of Jim Wheeler whose mother I was privileged to meet. He was out five months out of school; his parents totally accepted his being gay but had no idea what he’d gone through at school until reading his diary/poems after he also hung himself. One of his experiences, being urinated on seems to be very popular among homohaters. [See documentary, “Jim In Bold.”

    Slightly different was the story of Marcus Wyman, 18, in another small Pennsylvania town. Police happened upon him and another boy in a parked car, assumed they were gay simply because it was two boys together and they found condoms in the car [they weren’t found to actually be “doing” anything], lectured them about the evils of homosexuality, and threatened to tell Wyman’s grandfather with whom he lived that he was gay. Released, he went home, wrote a note of apology to his family and blew his brains out with the SECOND shot he fired because he flinched while firing the first one. Imagine what desperation must have driven that! In the movies, the would-be suicide often stops under such circumstances, but not always in real life when you’re a teenage football playing boy terrified of being labeled the town queer. His mother sued for violation of her son’s privacy which led to his suicide and was awarded $100,000. “No amount of money can replace what our client lost because of the actions of the police, but in paying this settlement the police department is acknowledging the role it played in Marcus Wayman’s death,” said her attorney. The ACLU has used the decision as legal precedent to help kids in other places, e.g., a 14-year old in Arkansas who was outed to his parents by his school, made to read the Bible in class, etc.

  19. Adam says

    I was out in high school in NJ in the mid 90s and it was horrible and definitely fucked up my life/education. Death threats in your locker and verbal abuse on a daily base can do that to you.
    Leland’s great post above provides some more examples of why this should be a major focus for us in the gay movement.
    Zeke, please let us know if you need more help. Also, I would suggest when you are ready to take action to post a diary on this on Daily Kos. There are a lot of folks there who could help with a group action writing and calling the school and maybe getting the story some media exposure.

  20. peterparker says

    Zeke,

    It sounds like you and your friends are doing all the right things to get the school system to protect this poor kid who is being harrassed.

    I might also add, however, that if I were the parent, I would demand that my child be transferred out of the classroom of the homophobic teacher. There is no reason this kid should have to sit in a classroom with a teacher who hates him.

    Best of luck, buddy.

    xo
    peterparker

  21. Craig says

    Zeke, this is advice from a layman who has done a quite a bit of research on the subject over the years. This applies even if they aren’t really planning to sue, but will be immensely helpful if they eventually do end up doing so. At the very least it will show the school you have 1) consulted with someone for legal advice or 2) are planning to sue, and that unto itself may whip them into doing the right thing. Contrary to what many claim, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation can violate the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of Equal Protection of the laws. It is harder to prove, but any such discrimination must 1) be rational and 2) related to a legitimate government interest. Both of the Circuit courts (mid level federal courts) that had addressed this specifically in the context of sexual orientation discrimination in addressing bullying and harassment at schools have come to the same conclusion, there is NO rational reason reason for allowing student-on-student bullying and harassment on the basis of the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation. Both courts (the 7th and 9th Circuits) states “We are unable to garner any rational basis for permitting one
    student to assault another based on the victim’s sexual orientation.” The two cases are Nabozny v Podlesny,92 F.3d 446, 454 (7th Cir. 1996) and Flores v Morgan Hill Unified School Dist., 324 F.3d 1130 (9th Cir. 2003).
    My advice…

    First and foremost, when your friend’s son is confronted with one of these situations, priority one is GET SAFE. The last thing anyone wants to see is someone seriously injured over this. I know it is easier said than done, but I said it simply to stress it takes precedence over everything else.

    Second, your friend’s son will need to become an expert at articulating and writing a high quailty AP style wire report lead because priority two is DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. He needs to keep a journal of and report to school authorities each and every incident, describing what happened, who was present (not just the assailants, but any potential witnesses), where the incident occurred and when it occurred. Be detailed. Be specific.

    When reporting the incident to school authorities, do so verbally and if the official does not create a written incident report in his presence, he needs to insist that he is not leaving the office until they do or until he gets to write out a signed handwritten written account of the incident that is countersigned for acknowledgement by the school official (preferably witnessed/notarized by someone like the school secretary) and photocopied so that he has a copy when he leaves. If they refuse, he is within his rights to ask them to call the police to report the incident since the police will definitely make a written report. I can’t stress this enough…insist on it. Make it crystal clear to school officials that there will be a written record of the incident and that they do not have a choice in that regard. This should do a lot for his self confidence being able to stand up to the authority figures who are up to now refusing to help such as if they refuse to allow a written record he should feel confident and justified in saying “Then call the police. I want to report an assault.” And if they refuse to call the police, the he should at the next available opportunity and be sure to also inform the police of the school’s refusal since hindering the reporting of a crime constitutes atleast one crime if not more. (In Texas atleast, if it is a public official hindering the reporting of a crime, it can constitute a felony offense of official oppression.)

    (to be continued…)

  22. Craig says

    This creates a verifiable paper trail that unambiguously shows the school is/was aware of the incidents that were occuring. One of the biggest barriers to suing a school for their lack of action against such bullying or harassment is that school officials claim they didn’t know it was going on. For example, under the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, a student subjected to sexual harassment (which may be an avenue y’all can pursue if any of the harassment has any sexual overtones), schools are only liable for student-on-student sexual harassment if “they are deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment, of which they have actual knowledge, that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.” (quoted from a case called Davis v Monroe Co. Bd. of Education, dealing with liability under Title IX. This is a key case to any Title IX challenge against the school, especially since it came out of the 11th Circuit, which Florida is in).

    You should also keep an ear to the ground about other incidents at the school and how school officials react in those cases. If they address harassment of a female student, but not your friend’s son, you can add sex discrimination to the mix or if they aren’t doing anything for anyone, it goes to a pattern of lack of action in these matters making deliberate indifference easier to prove.

    Next is another important step to pierce the school and school officials’ immunity shield: CLIMB THE LADDER. School’s often get away with getting a case dropped because plaintiffs haven’t “exhausted all administrative remedies” even though such is not strictly a requirement of penetrating qualified immunity. It can only help though, especially if you get a bigot judge. What is meant by climb the ladder is that if simply reporting the incidents to the vice principal doesn’t get anywhere, next take the matter to the principal or any official with authority over that campus. If the situation still does not improve, climb up the next rung to the principal’s head to his superior, either an assistant superintendent or the superintendent. Continue up all the way to the school board in necessary. One particularly effective means of doing this if the bullying or harassment has sexual overtones is to file the incident specifically noting Title IX. Under 34 C.F.R §106.8 and §106.9, schools are required, by law, to 1) have a policy regarding sexual harassment, 2) notify students and parents of that policy, 3) disseminate the complaint procedures created by the policy to students and parents and 4) designate atleast one employee to coordinate compliance with Title IX. Follow their procedures notifying that designated person (usually the principal) in writing mailed by certified registered mail. This should demonstrate the seriousness with which you take the ongoing harassment. Follow through on all such complaints. Hold them to the deadlines for responses.

    If by this point, the school is not doing what it should to stop the harassment, you will have a rock solid case where any first year associate fresh out of law school could best a season law firm with a billion combined years of legal experience (of course such firms would impress on the school to do their job lest they lose their shirts in court).

  23. Leland says

    Just a final comment. As much as I want to see the barricades stormed over this, too, we must remember the sensibilities of the student and that only he and his family can decide how “public” they want the resolution to be. In any case, bless you, Zeke, for being their champion.

    Also, here’s the shorthand on the amazing [ 11 YEAR-OLD!!!] Nabozny case:

    “For four years Jamie Nobozny was subjected to relentless antigay verbal and physical abuse by fellow students at his public high school in Ashland, Wisconsin. Students urinated on him, pretended to rape him during class, and when they found him alone kicked him so many times in the stomach that he required surgery. Although they knew of the abuse, school officials said at one point that Nabozny should expect it if he’s gay. Nabozny attempted suicide several times, dropped out of school and ultimately ran away. But he wanted to make sure that other students didn’t go through the same kind of nightmare. He sued his former school, but a trial court DISMISSED HIS LAWSUIT!!! [emphasis mine] Lambda Legal took over his case before a federal appeals court, which issued the first judicial opinion in the nation’s history finding that a public school could be held accountable for not stopping antigay abuse. The case went back to trial and a jury found the school officials liable for the harm they caused to Nabozny. The case then settled in his favor for $900,000.”

    JAMIE S. NABOZNY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MARY PODLESNY, WILLIAM DAVIS, THOMAS BLAUERT, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

  24. Zeke says

    Thanks for all the support and suggestions guys.

    Lamda Legal just called back. They are VERY interested in this situation and will be speaking to the parents later today.

    I try to keep y’all informed.

    Leland, those stories are heartbreaking. Stories like those are precisely why I am so OUT. If the knowledge that I am a gay man, who has refused to be limited by other people’s issue with my sexuality, can inspire one kid, or save one kid from feeling that they are alone with no hope (as I did growing up in rural Mississippi), or can help to save one kid from committing suicide in a moment of desparation, then that is reason enough for me to risk whatever may come by living openly, proudly and unapologetically out.

  25. Zeke says

    Thanks Craig, great advice.

    I feel very confident that Lamda Legal will investigate this thoroughly after interviewing the child and his parents and that they will properly and effectively address the situation.

    As much as I would love to storm the gates of the school with the hounds of Towleroad by releasing the school name and city, the family’s privacy and fixing the problem are my first priorities. I won’t do anything that might threaten the family’s privacy or safety, or anything that might interfere with the legal process.

    I will keep everyone updated as things move forward.

    By the way, the Florida state House passed an anti-bullying bill a couple of weeks ago but ONLY after the bill’s sponsor removed specific categories PRECISELY because legislators objected to the listing GLBT kids, and those suspected of being GLBT, among a list of other commonly targeted groups.

  26. Dean says

    Just wanted to offer my words of support. No one should have to go through idiocy like this. The teacher in the above story and especially not a kid.

    This is why we need to be teaching our kids (all kids) that they are worth standing up and fighting for. Yes, physically if necessary.

  27. anon says

    Studies have shown that teachers generally come from the bottom 20% of their college classes, suggesting a certain lack of professional qualification in most fields–and it’s not like teachers colleges are elite to begin with. The result, in combination with tenure, is very risk-work-averse careerism that essentially warehouses kids until they graduate. Bullying is only part of the problem.

  28. poodle says

    i would add that there might be a lot more to this that we don’t know. andy you make it appear that this incident of the gay slur kid is why she isn’t being granted tenure. as one that works in a school system a whole lot more could be involved in this. she could be generally pretty difficult and that was manifested in her behavior with regard to this incident and others. the full story is not known.

    PS Anon please refer me to the study you speak of.

  29. Leland says

    Jessica H. Fucking Christ. Call me a fool. I thought just once we were going to have a discussion without one of the Dickless Defenders of the Status Quo slither in. OF COURSE, we don’t know ALL the facts. Just like we weren’t in the Ft. Lauderdale airport when some religionist idiot decided to play recordings of homohating scripture over the PA. Maybe we’ll YET find out he actually luvs The Gays but his children had been kidnapped by Jerry Falwell and was forced to do it. Of course, we weren’t there when Nadine Smith was thrown to the ground by four cracker cops. Maybe they sincerely confused her with an armed & dangerous Black lesbian activist on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. MAYBE 200 New Jersey kids had just been praying all year for an excuse, ANY excuse to stage a walkout. End of Semester Fever. Mass morning wood. Etc. But, maybe, just maybe, there is something to the story of another teacher being sacrificed on the bonfire of homophobia raging in this country and we don’t need another GODDAMNED SELF-LOATHING COCKSUCKER TO VOLUNTEER FOR BUTT MONKEY DUTY FOR THE AMERICAN TALIBAN!

  30. qwerty says

    In response to Shane’s above comment, I’m a teacher who teaches at a Catholic school, and I have called out students (and corrected them too) who have said something homophobic in my class.

    Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice, whether it’s homophobia, racism or sexism.

  31. Zeke says

    Well, I took my laptop with me to CHURCH tonight, to show the parents of the child how much support and encouragement they were getting from this discussion; I click on the comments link and leave it for the parents AND my pastor to read totally unaware of the little love note that my good friend Leland had left for Poodle.

    How’s that for an embarrassing moment?

    Thank goodness I go to a VERY progressive church! My pastor just laughed and said, “It’s a good thing he’s on OUR side!”

    Leland, querido, I love ya but that was WAY not nice and WAY over the top bubba.

  32. Zeke says

    After talking to an attorney at Lambda Legal and being told exactly what to do, the parents set up a meeting with the principal for 7 o’clock Friday morning.

    The mother feels so relieved that she is getting help to protect her son.

    She and her husband are very grateful for the support and advice that they got here as well.

    She will probably drop by here tomorrow to make a personal statement.

    Take care guys and thanks again for your concern, support and suggestions.

    The Towleroad community ROCKS!!!

  33. Oscar says

    The reason why the Korean guy killed all those people in VT is because all during high school he was made fun and haunted for the way he looked, for the way he talked and for everything. Virginia high school is the cause and to blame for the massacre. It is not the first and it will not be the last. For as long as bullies are permitted to terrorized other kids, and teachers do not intervene, there will be massacres and the communities deserve them for their behavior.

  34. kirsy71 says

    Hi, this is the mom of the boy and Zekes friend, Zeke showed me all you replies last night, and I had tears in my eyes. Thank You so much, your support means very, very much to me, my family and of course to my son.
    I called lambda legal yesterday, they did the initial interview and now it is my term to collect all the papers and transcripts of the countless conferences we had before. It is true, I did not know the full extend of the harassment, the assaults and bullying that my son experienced. It is so sickening to us all. My son was silent, but I understand this is a typical behavior of a bullying victim.
    We are going to have a meeting tomorrow morning at 7:00am with the principal, and lambda advised me well what to say and to do.
    I will not be quiet anymore, I am not playing nice again, I will raise awareness, because this is hell our children are going through.

    Zeke, godfather-to-be, thanks again, we could not do this fight without your all support.

    If you like, I will keep you updated here, and depending how things are going, I will post the name of the school here, promised.

  35. Dean says

    GO MOM!! The slogan for AIDS awareness is appropriate here as well… Silence=Death. Like most evil, bullies like to hide in the dark… don’t let them.

    Yes, please do keep us updated. You have our love, support and prayers.

  36. Charlie says

    “The reason why the Korean guy killed all those people in VT is because all during high school he was made fun and haunted for the way he looked, for the way he talked and for everything. Virginia high school is the cause and to blame for the massacre…the communities deserve them for their behavior.”
    Excuse me Oscar?? Let me get this straight, an entire community of people who have absolutely nothing to do with the ALLEGED bullying of the VT murderer, DESERVE to have their loved ones brutally murdered?
    Your comments are beyond the pale.
    The murderer did what he did not because he was bullied, not because of what anyone else did to him, but because he was unable to deal in a mature adult fashion with the resentment and anger he felt towards people who he saw as better off than him. Instead of shrugging off his insecurities and/or dealing with any problems he had through proper channels, he did the most gutless and cowardly thing a human can do – took the lives of others and then, to avoid punishment, took his own.
    Don’t blame the victims, arsehole. This isn’t a case of an battery victim killing their attacker in self-defence.
    I was mercilessly bullied all through my school years, but I didn’t go off and murder all the people who did it to me. I got back in a decent way, by making something of myself and being a better person than my attackers.
    So fuck you Oscar.

  37. Zeke says

    The mom called to let me know how the meeting with the principal went this morning. She said it was a “mixed bag”. The principal said she would “investigate” further but she cut the parents off every time they tried to give a detailed description of what was being said and done to their son.

    One REALLY good thing has happened. The science teacher who told the kid to “toughen up and stop being a tattle tale” is no longer employed at the school. He was apparently fired in the last week for unknown reasons but most certainly for reasons NOT related to this particular case. Regardless of why he was fired I’m just glad he’s gone!

    The principal said that she would do some more investigation and contact the parents on Monday. I find it strange that she feels that she will be able to investigate this properly in less than a day but we’ll see what she comes back with Monday.

    The first step has been taken. The ball is now in the court of the school. If there is no satisfaction then Lamda Legal will officially step in.

    We will keep you guys updated.

    On a happier note Jerry and I will become the god parents of these parents’ youngest two children (they have 7 in all!) when they are baptised Sunday. This is the greatest honor that anyone can bestow on another person.

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