Mississippi Junior High, School District Ignore Anti-LGBT Harassment
March 22, 2013 by Maureen McCarty, HRC Deputy Director of Marketing
In Moss Point, Mississippi, an openly lesbian 16-year-old said that her Magnolia Junior High math teacher initiated some of the worst anti-gay bullying the teen has experience in her life.
Last year the teacher divided the classroom into two teams – boy versus girl – for a trivia game, according Destin Holmes.
Holmes said during a press conference yesterday with Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that the teacher made her sit alone in the middle of the classroom because Holmes was neither male nor female, but “in-between.”
“She told me since she didn’t know what I was, I should be on a team of my own,” said Holmes.
Throughout the school year Holmes was repeatedly referred to as “he,” “it,” “queer” and “he-she.”
Southern Poverty Law Center investigated the incident, to reveal a pattern of students, teachers, staff and administrators regularly targeting students perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
According to SPLC, school officials not only ignored reports of anti-LGBT harassment, but also told several LGBT students to “suck it up” after they reported bullying.
Holmes was forced to leave the school after the repeated harassment and bullying and is now home-schooled by her grandmother.
Studies have show that anti-LGBT harassment and bullying can have devastating, long-term effects on an individual. To succeed academically and socially, children need – and deserve—to feel that they’re a part of the school community.
The deck is already stacked too high against youth growing up LGBT in America. Vitriolic environments send a message to LGBT people that they aren’t worthy of the same dignity that all Americans deserve.
The path to equality is not easy, but it can start in your hometown. Get involved with HRC to call out homophobia and transphobia and help to end bullying.
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