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Is California’s Paloma Valley High School Really Treating Gay Students This Terribly? Yup

At Paloma Valley High School in Menifee, California, it’s the gay victims of anti-gay bulling who are punished. Which must make it a wonderful learning environment, where gay students (or those perceived as gay) are victimized once by fellow students, and again by administrators.

While district officials insist they’re improving their anti-bullying strategies, the high school’s track record doesn’t speak well of whatever the hell they’ve been trying in the past. Among Paloma Valley’s infractions, relays the Press-Enterprise:

• “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. The complaint, dated Oct. 14, detailed the incident. In the document, provided with names blacked out, the student wrote, ‘I’ve heard this has happened before.’ Ventuleth said the complaint was investigated and ‘based on our findings, we have dealt with the employee.’ She declined to elaborate, citing the employee’s right to confidentiality.”

• “The school’s Gay Straight Alliance was forbidden last fall from sharing information during the school announcements about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month. Paloma Valley senior Sarah Donnally, 18, vice president of the Gay Straight Alliance, proposed the idea. She hoped to share information during announcements about prominent gay people. She said her proposal was rejected, and she was told that such announcements weren’t allowed for any history month. Then the Black Student Union did similar announcements during Black History Month in February, said Donnally, one of several students who complained to Perris Union school board members last month.”

• “The case of Andrew Braham [pictured] moved teachers to contact the ACLU. The outspoken teen, who has been openly gay since his freshman year at Paloma, alleges he has been subjected to bullying and harassment throughout high school. When a student with whom he’d had exchanges in the past uttered a gay slur at him during math class last fall, Andrew said he’d had enough. The two had an argument that resulted in Andrew’s suspension, he said. After a second exchange with the student in December, which again began with the classmate using a gay slur, Andrew said he also was suspended. He learned he would face expulsion and was kicked off the school’s cheerleading squad. Andrew says the other student was not removed from a similar extracurricular activity or suspended. Andrew acknowledges he used bad language but said he and the other student should have been disciplined equally. ‘That was a hate crime,’ Andrew said. ‘My school has failed to do anything.’”

Here’s a tip, school administrators: When the ACLU feels the need to get involved, things are bad. But they don’t have to remain that way. The ACLU is there first and foremost to right a wrong, not draw blood. But if it takes a lawsuit to protect gay students, or grant them equitable access to school resources, then clearly you’re not doing something right.

By:           Ryan Tedder
On:           Mar 14, 2011
Tagged: , , , , ,

  • 10 Comments
    • Francis
      Francis

      These conservative backwaters do NOT like us. Let’s not get it twisted. These people essentially look at the gay community as the biggest threat to their world being. So therefore, they will continue to attack us at every turn, ignore the pleas of bullying and anti-gay violence, and in fact they have gotten more resistant and hateful as mainstream society has gotten more progressive. This most likely will continue getting worse and worse, so yes, it will take lawsuits to handle these problems. It’s gonna take loud voices, and people standing up and saying NO. It’s gonna take a lot of attention on these backwater areas and a shining of a spotlight on them to make sure they aren’t doing wrong. Because just thinking they are going to do the right thing isn’t going to lead to anything positive.

      Mar 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      I hope these students take positive steps to address complaints and don’t resort to threats of violence, burning the school or bringing guns to school.

      Mar 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Danny
      Danny

      I hope any wack-job teacher who calls a student a sinner is sued to high heavens for violating that student’s religious rights.

      Mar 15, 2011 at 4:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • andy
      andy

      @Francis
      The area profiled in the article happens to be the fastest growing area in California. The term backwater may have applied to South West Riverside County ten years ago but now it simply doesn’t apply. I’m a New Yorker who happens to own a vacation house out there and believe it or not there are other gay people out there as well. I’m out to my neighbors and they love me and my husband because we take care of our place and are a stable presence in the neighborhood. Being out is the first step in changing the status quo and I applaud these young gay people for being out and proud.

      Mar 15, 2011 at 11:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alicia
      Alicia

      As someone who lives in Menifee (and in the surrounding area for nine years, this area may not be “backwater” but that attitude is in a large portion of the population’s thinking. There is a huge “Christian” and Mormon population in this area and they don’t hide their close-minded ways. The LGBT numbers are increasing and wow, we finally have a gay night at a local club, but it is still a very tough area for LGBT to live in openly.

      Mar 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ME
      ME

      The s on the hand is total bull and that teacher should be fired if the accusations are true. However the Andrew case is probably being blown out of proportion. I went to Paloma and graduated in 09. I remember this kid for a reason, and not because he was gay, but because he was obnoxious. I think he was in a play and I participated in the stage crew for it.

      This article fails to realize what high school is and its distinct social environment. High school students are immature and love to make fun of anybody who stands out. And this kid definitely stood out. An in high School when you stand out your persecuted for it. There were plenty of gay kids in this School but most people really did not care. But this kid was flamboyantly gay, no problem with that, but it does attack the attention of the ignorant. I’m not saying he deserved being made fun of, because no one does but it happens. An no matter what your being taunted for you can’t assault someone, at least in high school. Especially in this high school as they do not tolerate violence, whatsoever.
      I’m sure this article is leaving out that their was violence or attempted violence involved as you can’t be expelled for yelling. I knew the principal, he was goofy and socially awkward at times, but he was not a bigot. I’m positive if this kid went to the front office and filed a complaint against those who were making fun of him, the front office would have done something about it. But instead he decided “to snap” and lose his cool.

      I understand the need to standup for yourself but in life you need to learn to pick your battles. An to me arguing with some annoying intolerant prick is not going to solve anything. Ignoring idiots won’t make them go away either but being indifferent towards them will allow you freedom from their insults, because if you don’t let them get to you, you win. There will always be jerks, but with the right perspective they will never bother you.

      Oh yes Menifee is chalk full of Mormons, born again Christians and big box churches but for the most part, its a nice community . I agree that the view point of several of these “Born again” Christians are very prejudice and intolerant of others, but that is their choice, I don’t agree with it but its their choice.

      And just to sum up my outlook as it pertains to this article, for you crazies. Atheist+pro gay rights. I was friends with a variation of people, and I grew up with a half of that school. Just to prove it to you, current principal is Mr.Morris black hair white, he replaced the other principal(forgot his name) because he was giving star athletes good grades so they could play. Also most of the security officers on campus ride bikes. Only seniors can go to off-campus lunch and have a vertical I.D. to prove that they are seniors. Also their calculus is teacher really good, his name is Lundstrom and his students do extremely well on the Ap test, and he had a wiffle ball tournament during lunch but I think it was shut down because other teachers were complaining. Asb President in 2009 was Thomas Domingo, 2008 Jenna Button, 2007 Nick Ochoa.

      P.S. Miss brown if your reading this, sorry for the grammar errors, at least I used spell check.

      Jun 29, 2011 at 12:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WEBB
      WEBB

      THAT ANDREW KID IS A D-BAG HE GET IN FIGHTS WITH GIRLS. IVE SEEN IT WITH MY OWN TWO EYES HE GOT PICKED ON CUS HES A DICK NOT GAY I HAVE OPENLY GAY FRIENDS THAT HATE HIM. HE NEEDS TO GROW A PAIR HES LIKE THE GAY EQUVALENT TO A BLACK GUY THAT SAYS HE CAN’T GET A JOB CUS HES BLACK WHEN HE REALY CAN’T GET A JOB CUS HE HASNT APPLIED FOR A JOB. GROW UP DRAMAQUEEN

      Jul 10, 2011 at 12:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cannette
      cannette

      I don’t care if this kid is a jerk or not NO one should be subjected to gay slurs period. Call him a Jerk call him anything else but that. I can’t believe this school…If I was the parent of the kid who had an S written on there hand Lord help that school……they would of had to call the Police on me……I don’t know why people think its accepted treat gay teens or anyone else this way….So is this the new acceptable racism???????? STOP IT YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES

      Jul 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      I went to Paloma Valley. Most if not all of this is twisted and blown way out of proportion. I was never once harassed for being openly gay. This article not only makes the school sound backwards but also the entire city. Gotta love that freedom of fucking press.

      Jul 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wastelander
      Wastelander

      As a fellow Paloma Valley student. This is completely stupid. so what if he got picked on?! boo f*cking hoo. Look people are always gonna get picked on. its happened since the beginning of time and will remain till the end of time. Its human nature. Can we prevent it sure. can we eliminate it? no. why? Because people are always gonna try to find something to piss you off. they’re called haters. So either suck it up or become an emo. Your choice. how about you guys do something more productive than just b*tch on the damn comp. Do something! like plant a tree or feed a homeless dude. And whats this Sh*t about the LGBT?! what, are we creating Factions now? My god, humans cease to amaze me.

      Aug 20, 2011 at 4:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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