Members of the Wilcox High School football team in Santa Clara, California are under investigation by police after allegedly subjecting a 14-year-old gay male cheerleader who cheers for their team to homophobic abuse, bullying, and physical threats at one of their games. The cheerleader has not been identified because he is a minor. The situation has thrown the school into turmoil.
A Change.org petition urging “consequences” for the football players at fault is currently collecting signatures.
It says: “At a football game on October 18th, members of the Wilcox High School Varsity football team chanted homophobic slurs (including “f-g”) at a male member of the cheerleading team. They called him “gay” for cheerleading for THEIR team, and showing up every game to cheer them on. Despite the fact that the cheerleaders spend hours of their day cheering on various sports teams, these football members thought it appropriate to be cruel and harass a single cheerleader based on their biases and prejudice. While many people are aware of this incident, there is a slim chance much will be done to change this behavior by tweeting/posting about it. The main purpose of this petition is to call the administration and football coaches to attention, so they can investigate this incident. This sickening incident requires consequences, so it never happens to someone again. It would be greatly appreciated if you shared this.”
Reports of the players calling the cheerleader “gay” and a “fag” got wider exposure on social media shortly after the incident after the cheerleader’s sister, who had been the cheerleading squad’s captain but has since graduated, defended him on Twitter (screenshots via Outsports).
Santa Clara police are now investigating
The victim of the attacks posted a tweet on Sunday night denouncing the players that attacked him.
Said the tweet: “I am a boy and i am on the cheer team. i understand that people might think that’s different but when it comes down to it nobody deserves to be talked about in a negative way at all. it doesn’t matter your sexual orientation, your gender, your religion, your race or anything else. … everyone should be treated equally and it hurts my heart that people on the football team that are almost fully grown and are talking about me and my teammates and bashing us for no reason other than me being gay and a freshman and my friends sticking up for me. … THEN saying that nobody was talking bad about us or anything during the rally the people behind you heard everything you said and know your jersey number. i had nothing but respect for every single person on that team and everyone else i had no negative opinions on anyone. … i mind my business everyday when i get to school and i never wanted anything bad to happen to myself, anyone that i care about, and everyone else otherwise. thank you to everyone that is doing what they can to help me and my teammates, and everyone that is checking up on me.”
The Mercury News reports: ‘At the rally Friday, which administrators and teachers attended, the crowd and football players chanted, “Hey, Hey, Hey,” while waving arms back and forth, the source said, adding that the cheerleader might have interpreted the chants as, “Gay, Gay, Gay.” The father said that’s not what his son or his cheerleading teammates heard. “This is far from a misunderstanding,” said the father, who broke down several times during a 30-minute interview. The father says his son heard far worse, being called a slang word for being gay that is considered a slur. The father also said his son had been subjected to other incidents over the past month. The boy’s parents said they did not want their son to cheer Friday night at the game after the incident at the pep rally, but he went anyway. …The father said his son faced more verbal insults during halftime at the game. He said the cheerleaders protested the team by refusing to hold up banners the players run through to enter the field.’
The teen cheerleader did not attend school on Tuesday, out of fear for his safety.
The Mercury News added: “The father added that a Chargers football player also was threatened by teammates at the Santa Clara school after it was revealed that he provided the family with screenshots that corroborate the alleged slurs. The family has not provided this news organization with copies of the screenshots.”
The Santa Clara police are currently investigating: “What we can say is that we are investigating reports of inappropriate conduct and determining if it rises to a criminal matter.”
School district spokeswoman Jennifer Dericco released a statement on Tuesday: “At Santa Clara Unified School District, we proactively work to create an environment that embraces diversity and we do not tolerate harassment or bullying of any kind.”