school daze

This high school basketball star came out as gay. His team became the target of homophobia.

Alex Bosaker. Via @STPHSActivities Twitter.

A high school senior and basketball player for St. Peter High School in St. Peter, Minnesota has gone public with disgusting details of the homophobic taunting he–and his teammates–had to endure at the hands of a rival school.

Alex Bosacker, 18, publicly came out as gay late last year. The decorated scholar-athlete received an outpouring of support from his teammates and coach at the time.

Flash forward to this January. When Bosacker took to the court in a game against rival school New Ulm, players on the other team began to shout that Bosacker was trying to grab other players’ crotches. That homophobic harassment continued at a game against New Ulm in February, when another player kept whispering homophobic comments and pinching him during the game. The experience left him covered in bruises.

“The experience was awful,” Bosacker told The Star Tribune. “I wanted to leave the court, to just leave my body at some points.”

New Ulm later claimed it had punished the player in question for his behavior, though it did not disclose any details to the public.

And still, it got worse. Last week, St. Peter played New Ulm again. Fans of St. Peter wore rainbow colors to show their support for Bosacker and the team. Still, according to Bosacker, the same player began pinching him again. Then on the bus ride back to the school, things took a violent turn.

As the team drove home on a two-lane road, a pair of cars approached the bus. One car passed the bus and swerved in front of it, prompting the bus driver to slam on the brakes. The other car then pulled up next to the bus, and the team began to panic as they heard the sound of rapid-fire projectiles hitting the side of the vehicle.

Related: Illinois high school students form “Anti-Queer Association”

Fortunately, the projectiles just turned out to be water beads. Nobody on the bus was physically hurt, but everyone was frightened at the incident.

The Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office later issued citations to four New Ulm students for disorderly conduct. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor is 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both.

Jeff Bertrang, New Ulm’s superintendent, later denied that the bus incident had any connection to the homophobic harassment of Bosacker. “It was four individuals making a really poor decision,” he said. “But perception matters. … One incident can reflect poorly on all of us.”

Angela Bosacker, mother of Alex, however, disagrees.

“A bunch of us feel this was in retaliation for our student section wearing rainbow pride colors,” she said. “What if the bus driver had panicked? They could have caused an accident.”

For Alex Bosacker, the episode adds a bitter taste to his final year with St. Peter.

“I hate it so much,” Bosacker said. “I just wanted to have fun this year, have one last hurrah with all my friends.”

The incident with New Ulm is the latest in a string of homophobic incidents in high schools around the country. Last year, student at Anna-Jonesboro Community High School in Illinois united to form an “Anti-Queer” association. In Florida, video captured students attacking members of the school’s gay-straight alliance and defacing the pride flag. In Utah, video also showed students cheering as a classmate tore down the school’s pride flag.