In the Perris Union High School District in Southern California’s Inland Empire, the problem of anti-gay bullying and discrimination seems to be institutional:
Students and teachers at a Menifee high school say there is a pattern of bullying, harassment and discrimination against gay and lesbian students on campus.
In one instance, a Paloma Valley High School student alleged a teacher wrote an “S” on her hand and called her “a sinner.” In another, a student group says it was barred from doing an activity for gay and lesbian history month, though an ethnic student group could. An openly gay senior says he was unfairly disciplined after a dispute with a classmate who he says harassed him.
Teachers and students took their concerns to Paloma Valley administrators, the school board and the ACLU. District officials say they are addressing the complaints.
“We take them very, very seriously,” said Leslie Ventuleth, spokeswoman for the Perris Union High School District and its chief human resources officer.
Other students say they’ve endured anti-gay bullying from other students over the years, which is unsurprising when the adults in charge are unable to conduct themselves as professional adults. Fortunately, it seems that other teachers were the ones who were led to get the ACLU involved, so it’s not all bad apples:
Concern over their students’ welfare prompted Machado and teacher Elizabeth Darovic to speak out. Darovic helped form the Paloma Valley Gay Straight Alliance several years ago and is still an adviser.
“It’s your responsibility as a teacher to support kids,” said Darovic, an English teacher.
About 30 to 50 students, not all of them gay, attend weekly alliance meetings after school. Students have grown increasingly frustrated about the southwest Riverside County school’s climate, the teachers said. Some have filed formal complaints with the school district. Others spoke publicly at school board meetings.
“It doesn’t feel like a safe place to them,” Darovic said, but nothing happens when they complain. “There have been no consequences.”
Teachers and students cited several issues and incidents that have occurred recently, most during the current school year. In one instance, a teacher drew an “S” on a student’s hand and repeatedly referred to the student, who was wearing a T-shirt that read “Gay is Good,” as a sinner throughout class, according to a complaint with the district provided by a teacher.
It is unbelievable the way wingnuts conduct themselves in public, really.
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