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Arizona Principal Punishes Two High School Boys by Forcing Them to Hold Hands: VIDEO


Tim Richard, a high school principal in Arizona, punished two boys for fighting this week by forcing them to hold hands, ABC News reports:

Earlier this week, the two students at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz., who have not been named, were faced with the prospect of either suspension from school, or sitting in chairs in the high school’s courtyard and holding hands for 15 minutes during a lunch period. They opted for the latter.

“Kids were laughing at them and calling them names, asking, ‘Are you gay?’” student Brittney Smyers told ABC affiliate KNXV.

Teens at the high school inevitably posted photos of the two, who spent the time shielding their faces with their heads in their hands, to social media sites.

On the Facebook posting, users commented that the public punishment is not appropriate, as it positions the teens as targets for taunting and name-calling. Others suggested the punishment was anti-gay, as it implies two males holding hands is embarrassing.

The school district has denounced the principal's punishment.

Watch the ABC News report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. I am exiled in Arizona while the SigO finishes a degree. We live in Tempe, which borders Mesa. That means we have a daily context for the homophobia and general ambiance of bigotry here. Mesa is also in the same county as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who forces his prisoners to wear pink (including pink handcuffs)—for the specific intention of humiliating them. He's also painted all the cell walls pink. And here's a quote from the UK Guardian, so you get an outside perspective: “But there is also an unusual element to Arpaio's punitive ideals. For years now, he has been forcing male inmates to wear pink underwear in a deliberate attempt to humiliate them. Their towels, socks and sweaters are also pink. Every so often, the pink-clad prisoners are marched through the streets of Phoenix, so the city's residents can bask in their humiliation.”

    “Arpaio claims his pink underwear tactics are all about reducing crime and saving taxpayer money. Unfortunately, it seems they are achieving neither. A 2009 report by the conservative Goldwater Institute found that not only has violent crime gone up in Maricopa County (homicides alone increased 166% between 2004 and 2007). So, too, have costs. The combination of budget overruns, overtime payments and the millions of dollars in settlements paid out to plaintiffs who sued for wrongful arrest and detention have made a mockery of the sheriff's claims that he is saving his constituents money.”

    As pointed out in the original source, while the two young men tried to keep their faces covered while their peers posted photos (like the one on Towleroad) to their facebook pages, they all knew the boys’ names and could post face pictures on their facebook posts to accompany the “shaming one.” But I’m also missing a lot of the realization of people making comments on here of what message this sends to actual LGBT kids who attend that school and who aren’t out. They get a free preview of the attitudes of their fellow students.

    I’m also a Family Therapist, and after the outbreak of youth suicide around a year ago over having one’s sexual orientation—or even more importantly-one’s PERCEIVED sexual orientation—being made public, I actually worry about the potential harm this has caused the two young men, as well as the “not out” LGBT students at that school.

    While I’m aware of the statement the youths were “given a choice” of suspension or this (in the context of Mormon Mesa) public shaming, having worked with school districts as a consultant for years, I am very aware of how a principal can make a choice “not a choice.” For that matter, since the mid-1990s, Sheriff Arpaio has reinstated public chain gangs of both male and female prisoners who are paraded around in their pink outfits, and Arpaio states they’re “volunteers,” but if you check news sources, “volunteering” means it’s that or losing “privileges” such as food.

    Posted by: Ty Nolan | Dec 1, 2012 3:25:27 PM

  2. Oh gosh, I thought they had gotten into trouble for being caught Holding Hands. You know, I agree with the writer that said, it made things look like it was a bad thing for two males to hold hands. Furthermore, what was the fight over? Was it a lover's quarrel? And that Bright Pink Shirt? Good Lord, the mileage one can get out of this one... Umm, umm, ummm.

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Dec 2, 2012 3:40:13 AM

  3. So now they have something to bond over. Not as cute as dog shaming, but still amusing.

    If you look at that pic and think it's anti-gay you may be seeing your own personal baggage more than the reality of it.

    The fact that they are doing it, holding hands that is, means they don't see it as such a big deal and the two of them can't be all that homophobic.

    Posted by: tv appearances next? | Dec 2, 2012 8:13:18 AM

  4. I think that the principal made a good call. The two boys were using their hands to hurt one another in a fight. Instead of suspending them ( which really is a few days vacation from school) he allowed them to choose holding hands for 15 min in public. You know, kiss and make up. Except he didn't make them kiss. This of course causes all the professional gays who are always looking for signs of homophobia to go nuts. Who cares what these constant cry babies think? Not me thats for sure!!!

    Posted by: andrew | Dec 2, 2012 8:47:11 PM

  5. Public humiliation and shaming is NOT EVER an appropriate consequence. Allowing the student body to taunt and jeer as a part of the punishment (REGARDLESS of the content of their words) is NOT EVER an appropriate consequence. Furthermore, setting up the students for continued humiliation by making it a YouTube-able event is NOT EVER an appropriate consequence. For ANYTHING, EVER.

    Suspension for the principal? No. Firing is the appropriate consequence.

    Posted by: OldBaldGuy | Dec 3, 2012 12:30:05 AM

  6. Oh no, the two fighting boys had to hold hands in public. Big freaking deal. In my day the option (if given) would have been 5 to 10 hard swats with a paddle in front of the entire class or school or ... perhaps 10 to 20 hours cleaning the building after school was over. This was nothing.

    Posted by: Phil | Dec 3, 2012 10:56:15 AM

  7. Help us support Dr. Richard! I'm a gay dad, and my daughter attends his school! What he did was right! Help us send a message to the district!

    Posted by: Roger Webb | Dec 3, 2012 2:23:29 PM

  8. sham on him! we dont need that sort of punishment it masks me sick !

    Posted by: nick | Dec 3, 2012 3:25:08 PM

  9. i think that we should stop searching for homophobia everywhere, i mean this is just a creative punishmentabout having two peoplo who cant stand themselves so being together holding hands it's a punishmente because they don't like to spent time together, not because some stupid people think they are gay

    Posted by: Sergio | Dec 3, 2012 3:32:21 PM

  10. its okay, its not bullying, its loving since the two are fighting.... it fights bullying,,,, the principal is right!

    Posted by: boshi | Dec 3, 2012 8:26:38 PM

  11. the punishment is right.... so to all people who are in war... come over here and hold you hands together!

    its not bullying, since fighting was the bullying root cause...

    im sorry at first, i was overreacting... now i know the principal is right!

    Posted by: boshi | Dec 3, 2012 8:35:38 PM

  12. the principal was right! the principal was right! the principal was right! i admired that school! i admired that school!

    Posted by: boshi | Dec 3, 2012 8:40:02 PM

  13. Thats disgrace!!! Pure violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Posted by: M.M.Keerberg | Dec 3, 2012 11:15:50 PM

  14. The pushishment itself is not homophobic. Taking one's hand for long to solve personal problems between two people that were fighting each other, also solves the problem of their use of violence and exposure of this violence to solve their problems.

    But the homphobic attitude of the school is to tolerate homphobic words sent to them by the other students. But the first level of homophobia comes from these other students (that the school should also have punished).

    Posted by: Philippe V | Dec 7, 2012 9:56:09 AM

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