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School should have shut down 'Anti-Gay Day' before it started

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






High school students organize 'Anti-Gay Day' protest to bully LGBT students

A bunch of dumb students at a Pennsylvania-area high school thought it would be an awesome idea to organize an "Anti-Gay Day" protest on Thursday, the day after the school held an event to raise awareness for homophobia and bullying.

To protest gays at McGuffey High School in Claysville, Pennsylvania, a group of students wrote "anti-gay" on their hands, wore coordinating flannel shirts and slapped copies of Bible verses on the lockers of students believed to be LGBT. There are also reports that students were uploading Bible verses to Instagram and tagging gay students to call them out publicly.

Why is this happening in a public school? Don't they have math or science to work on?

There was also a reported "lynch list" of LGBT students circulated, although the school board said in a statement there has been no evidence of any list.

Zoe Johnson, a 16-year-old student at McGuffey who identifies as bisexual, said she came to school on Thursday and was confused about why everyone was wearing flannel.

"People started getting pushed, and notes were left on people's lockers," she said. "I got called a dyke, a faggot. They were calling us every horrible name you can think of."

Where are the grown-ups? Is this the kind of control the teachers and administration have at McGuffey? Because if my kid — gay, straight or otherwise — attended this school, I would want someone's head on a pike, Game of Thrones-style.

School is supposed to be a safe place. Public schools have a legal obligation to provide every student with a basic education. Why are precious school days being wasted on this nonsense? This should have been immediately shut down, and everyone should have gone on to class. End of story.

Instead the school board held a meeting on Thursday night, and Superintendent Erica Kolat released a lame, milquetoast statement, with all the boiler plate language, about an ongoing investigation and the school's commitment to "providing a safe, supportive environment for all children."

Really? Because it doesn't seem like it. Seems like the kids at McGuffey are running around wild like Lord of the Flies, bullying kids at will in the school hallways.

LGBT teen suicide is an epidemic. In fact, according to the Trevor Project, gay teens are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than straight kids. And sadly, each episode of victimization more than doubles the statistical likelihood of an LGBT teen engaging in self-harming behaviors.

That's the real consequence of exposing these fragile kids to crap like this hateful homophobic stunt.

And please don't think this is in any way a First Amendment free speech issue. Schools aren't free speech zones — they're places where children go to learn, and educators are supposed to exercise professional judgment to protect and promote a positive learning environment. Free speech is what college is for. Church is where Bible verses are appropriate. Why can't McGuffey High School, its teachers and administrators draw those boundaries for their students?

To the kids being harassed, your school owes you an apology. To the kids who organized this "Anti-Gay Day" nonsense, the adults in your life owe you better supervision and direction than to let you run around acting like ignorant jerks. This stunt is potentially something that will haunt you well into your adult life.

To the parents, teachers and administrators of McGuffey High, pull it together. Get those kids to class. They have far more important things to learn than hate and intolerance. We've already got plenty of that to go around. Shame on you.

Also, just a note to the "anti-gay" bros, getting together with your buddies to wear coordinating flannel outfits to school might be sending the opposite message you're intending. Here's a little Taiwanese animation to help explain the point:

More on LGBT teens

Why LGBT teens are turning to drugs
The Trevor Project prevents LGBTQ teen suicide
Talking to kids about homosexuality

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