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.