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Students at a Pennsylvania high school allegedly staged a protest of the Day of Silence, which included intimidation and physical harassment of LGBT students and a ‘lynch list’.
The Day of Silence, an annual event that raises awareness of LGBT bullying, produced a loud backlash from students at a Pennsylvania high school. A group of students at McGuffey High School allegedly organized an “Anti-Gay Day” in response to the peaceful protest coordinated by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.
A local news station reports that the clique encouraged others who were antigay to wear flannel and write “Anti-Gay” on their hands Thursday, the day preceding the Day of Silence. But the backlash did not end with sartorial choices. Participants also targeted LGBT students, hanging posters on their lockers and physically harrassing them in the hallways of their school.
“There was pushing, posters hung on homosexual students’ lockers. Teachers were having to run out and take them down,” Zoe Johnson, a student at McGuffey High School, told the news station. “It hurts me to see how rude and cruel, and some of these people were my friends before this started,” she added.
The antigay group promoted the event on social media, posting a photo of the flannel-clad participants. “Anti-Gay Day” was to be the first of a planned week-long series of antigay events, which would use clothing to signal their animosity toward their LGBT peers. “Flannel anti-gay day only a few of many tomorrow is red day,” a student wrote in the caption.
Nationwide, animosity toward the Day of Silence has been encouraged by groups like Focus on the Family and the Illinois Family Institute, which organized antigay events like the Day of Dialogue as well as walkouts in protest of GLSEN’s “homosexuality-affirming dogma.” GLSEN reports that 56 percent of LGBT students felt unsafe at school due to their their sexual orientation. In addition, 38 percent felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
Administrators at the McGuffey School District are investigating the incident. Dr. Erica Kolat, the superintendent, released a statement saying that the school “will follow our Student Code of Conduct, and file legal citations, as warranted. We will resolve to ensure that all children can grow and learn in a safe, supportive environment free from discrimination.” However, some students do not feel safe returning to the school.
“It’s sad to me. It’s a high school. We should feel safe here. We don’t, and it’s starting to get worse,” Johnson said. Among the reasons for this fear was a “lynch list” circulating around the school, with a growing list of names.
Unique lives intertwine and collide in a world confronted by controversy and forbidden love. This world is very much like our own: filled with family gatherings at church, children playing in the yard, and college frat parties. Except these families are led by same-sex couples, and homosexuality is the expectation. To be heterosexual is to be shunned and ridiculed because it means you are different. In this world, to be gay is right and to be straight is wrong.