After a gay student was assaulted in Maine, his classmates staged a demonstration outside the school to show solidarity and demand the school take action against his bullys.
More than 100 York high school students joined 14-year-old Garrett McCann and his parents yesterday morning, decked out in rainbow wear and carrying signs that read “You are beautiful” and “Be kind.”
In a statement, organizers asked administrators to strengthen consequences for bullying.
“We are standing out here today to rally for EVERYONE being bullied, to spread a positive message of gay pride, to stand for the LGBTQ+ community and to bring awareness to hate crimes. We are standing with every single student and community member to say that we will not tolerate bullying or hate crimes in our community.”
Details of what exactly happened are being kept private, but WCSH6 reports that police are expected to charge at least one student with assault and possibly add civil-rights violations.
Tim McCann said the bullying against his son began with a few students making homophobic comments on social media: “They called him ‘faggot’ and some other crude stuff I am probably embarrassed to even say to you,” he told The Bangor Daily News.
Monday’s demonstration was a rare instance of students from all different social circles coming together for a single cause.
“You’ve got football players, two of the captains, people from the drama club who never get involved in sports, all sorts of people,” said YHS student Nate Davis. “When everyone gets together for one problem you can tell that problem is big enough that you need to address it soon. That’s what this is trying to show. We’re not all from one group, but we’re all united.”
Garrett said he felt supported by the rally.
“It’s only about four or five or six people [who bullied me]—and look at the people here. They’re definitely outnumbered. I mean I don’t even know some of these people, and here they are.”
Many in the community don’t believe the school has done enough to protect LGBT students from harassment and bullying. The McCann family claims Garrett reported the bullying to teachers and administrators, but nothing was done. Principal Karl Francis said he couldn’t address specifics, but insisted the proper procedures were taken, including calling the police.
“Violence is never an acceptable solution to conflict,” he said in a statement. “All students should feel safe at York High School and we hold that as a priority… We have dedicated the day to listen to students and look forward to working alongside them to ensure that all students feel welcome, safe and supported at York High School. This morning’s rally signified a statement of unity and respect for all York students.”
Francis said he would bring the students’ demands to the school board.
McCann’s brother was involved in a separate incident, possibly in retaliation. He has been suspended from school and placed in police custody. It’s unclear if he is the one facing assault charges.