After students at Plano East High School threatened to “beat the gay out of” a classmate in a SnapChat conversation, the district’s board of trustees plans to add LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance of North Texas reports that the Plano ISD board is expected to approve the LGBTQ-inclusive policy at its next scheduled meeting. More than 2,200 people have signed a petition calling for the policy to be amended.
On Friday, Feb. 2, about 100 Plano East students walked out of class and staged a rally in support of their bullied classmate. However, the students who made the threat reportedly returned to class this week.
From the Plano Star-Courier:
Three speakers addressed the incident at PESH at Tuesday night’s meeting. Dawna Hubert, board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance and mother to a future PESH Panther, said she was proud of the Plano East students for speaking out against bullying and speaking up for the LGBTQ community. She implored the board to include sexual orientation in the district’s non-discrimination policy to protect future LGBTQ students from being bullied or threatened.
“It’s not teaching about the LGBT community in class. It’s not taking some big political position. It’s saying loud and clear that it’s not okay to either do or say that you want to ‘beat the gay’ out of another student,” Hubert said.
Hubert said she was looking forward to more districtwide conversations about the LGBTQ commmunity in the future.
“I look forward to them revisiting the issue of adding LGBTQ to the non-discrimination policy. The larger districts in the area have already done so, and actions have show Plano needs to do the same,” she said.
Here’s Hubert’s full testimony, via Facebook:
I am here today as both a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of North Texas and as the mother of a future Plano East Panther.
The episode of bullying last week at Plano East has been disheartening to me as both a mother and as a member of the LGBT community. As disappointed as the actions of those boys made me, I was so proud of the reaction of student body. They said in a loud and united voice, this is NOT our Plano East. I was also very proud of how the school administration handled it. They acknowledged the anger and passion of the students and turned it into a positive… or so I thought.
Hundreds of students planned to walk out in support of their bullied school mate and against bullying and discrimination. They were told instead they could plan a rally. Unfortunately, yesterday morning, the administration took that away in a classic bait and switch. We should be proud of our students when they stand up to support a classmate who has been threatened. We want them to grow into adults who treat everybody with dignity. The administration at PESH lost a lot of my respect when they backed out of that promise, but even more, they lost the respect of many students they are supposed to lead and inspire.
I also had a great deal of confidence that the district would properly discipline the students involved. By no means was I expecting expulsion or an action that would sully their records, but I expected a statement to be made that threats of violence will not be tolerated in this district. I understand you can’t talk about specifics, but I do know the offending boys were back in school this week. That means at most they received a couple of days suspension. How many days for the rest of the year do you think the young man threatened will be looking over his shoulder? How many days for the rest of the year do you think that every other (insert your expletive here) in the fine arts department will be looking over their shoulder after seeing the flyers put on the doors? Who really is paying the price for the actions of these students who think hate crimes are a joke?
Today, 1 in 20 Americans identify as belonging to the LGBT community, however, 1 in every 5 hate crimes is committed against a member of that community… of my community. Every other category of hate crime… race, religion, gender, disability, country of origin… these are all currently protected in the PISD non-discrimination policy. It’s time that the LGBT community is added. Saying it’s not okay to discriminate against a kid because they are different is NOT the same as advocating their sexual orientation or activities. It’s not teaching about the LGBT community in class. It’s not taking some big political position. It’s saying loud and clear that it’s not okay to either do or say that you want to “beat the gay” out of another student.