Gay High School Student Bullied By Classmates—And Teacher

Comments

1
Do you think that Slog readers are your personal army?
2
Seriously, what? How is this guy not immediately fired if this happened?
3
School board contact info: http://www.flaglerschools.com/content/sc…
4
Hey mom, do a little bullying on the bullies and threaten a lawsuit. You are not powerless!
5
@2 - you would be amazed. In Marysville, WA, (at least when I went to school) there were two teachers who would routinely openly mock homosexuals, both the idea of and actual perceived students. School administrators' response: tell the teachers to knock it off, and the kids to be less obvious, but no apologies necessary.

And that's, what, less than an hour north of uber-liberal Seattle? Sucks.
6
WHAT? A *teacher*?? Lemme at 'im!
7
Yeah, kids being mean to other kids is one thing: it sucks, & I'm glad we're trying to send a positive message to youth at risk of being bullied that not all of life is like that.

But a teacher doing it is not to be tolerated. Whatever the fuck your prejudices are, when you are in a position of power over young people like that, leave your BS at home, & treat people fairly.
8
@4 the article does say that they're preparing to sue the school. Good.

Letter sent, etc.
9
Email sent. We are not going to put up with this any longer. This must not be a very good school system because as teachers and administrators you would think they would have learned from the failings of others who tried the same crap before them.

This makes me nuts! Well okay, nuttier.
10
In 8th grade, I had a history teacher who was discussing World War II. I was the only non-white person in class; I'm half Japanese. He spoke of how evil the Japanese were, what a ruthless and cruel people they were. I felt he was staring at me the entire time (of course, he never mentioned the US Japanese internment camps). I went home early from school because I broke down, crying hysterically after he was done. My parents spoke with the principal and the teacher, and possibly the school board. The teacher was never put on suspension, and I don't know whether he received even a reprimand. I don't know if this was because of the teachers' union, or because of school leaders looking the other way (yay, 98% white population).

Bullying people for things they have no control over and should be proud of, should never be acceptable, whether that's sexual orientation, race, gender, etc. And bullying people while in a position of authority should not be accepted.
11
Respectful letter encouraging the Principal to do the right thing.

And @1- yes, we are his personal army.
12
@8 So you got upset that your teacher was, uh, teaching? Cause last time I checked the Japanese weren't all about puppy parades and ice cream cake during the war.
13
Sorry, meant @10.
14
Thanks for this. Done.

I'm so glad he has his family's strong support. One Texas mom helped her then-11-year-old through a bad patch of bullying - look at him now:
Last fall, Grant Mower, a cherubic 12-year-old from Flower Mound, Tex., won a design contest at Terry Costa, a Dallas retailer, with a simple and elegant one-shouldered white gown. He was 11 at the time, but he had begun making sketches years before that and realized they were fashion after watching an episode of “Project Runway,” said Moanna Mower, his mother. Creative and artistic, he was having problems at school, teased and bullied when he told his friends he wanted to be a fashion designer.

“He was broken,” Mrs. Mower said. “It was really rough. When he came home from school, it would take hours to coax him out of his mood.” Out of desperation, she said, “I would do things like ask, ‘Want to watch a Versace show?’
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/fashio…

I read elsewhere that after a stint of homeschooling the kid decided to go back to school and is doing fine there. Courage.
15
It is Florida so can't say I'm all that shocked.
16
As I once said in High School, some teachers deserve to die.

Thankfully that was before Columbine.
17
@15 I don't know if you are a fan of Adam Carolla but he plays a game called "Germany or Florida?" in which he reads a crazy story from the AP and contestants must guess as to the location of the act. It is truly fascinating and falls right in-line with your comment.

Also - WTF is up with the Mountain Dew/Pepsi line? That homophobic shit doesn't even make sense. Fire his ass.
18
@1 Do you think Slog is 4chan?
19
@1: When Moot drops by and asks a favor of some Anons, plenty of people humor him, right? That's because /b/ IS Moot's personal army, as he runs the place. Similarly, Stranger writers can ask favors of SLOG readership.
20
This is sad but not surprising. When I was in school it was pretty obvious the teachers saw bullying as a way of keeping the "weird" kids in line.
21
@12/13: It should be possible to teach history accurately without making anyone feel that they, personally, are responsible for or share personal characteristics with those in history who may have done bad things. There is a difference between saying "Imperial Japan committed terrible atrocities during the war" and "The Japanese are a ruthless and cruel people".

Not sure where the teacher in that particular anecdote fell between those two lines, but it isn't hard to imagine that an insensitive teacher might have difficulty navigating it.
22
@12,

It terrifies me that you're a fucking history teacher.
23
Of course, I want to know more about the facts of the case before I start ranting. What a lame teacher if it is true. That kind of educator should not be in the classroom. I want more facts about this situation.
24
@21 I see what you are saying, but the way I read the comment was that the teacher was saying these things in the past tense. As in they "were".

Seems odd that a teacher would have some kind of prejudice against the modern Japanese of all people. Maybe his people were from Nanking.
25
@22 How so buddy? What is it about that comment that keeps you up at night, gripping your sweat soaked blanket in terror?

Seriously, I'm genuinely interested.
26
@12/13 And to add to what 21 said, last time I checked, when two nations are at war, NEITHER of them are being nice to each other. That's kind of the point. Also, uh, remind me exactly when they dropped nuclear weapons on our civilian targets?
27
I'm with Rotten.

I'll say even that it's almost an insult to the Japanese people to ignore how much they were savages.

We had internment camps and that was wrong. However, it's not comparable. The Japanese were in something like our dark ages. They were barbaric - by which I mean to say that the entire ideology upon which their society rested was bronze age. If you downplay that, you lose the effect of the whole story.

Those fuckers caught up in...like...two decades.

No whining about how it's their culture and it's ancient and blah blah blah. They identified the bits of their culture that were holding them back and got rid of them.

Our own enlightenment was messy, long, painful, torturous and tortuous. We can't be an example. Japan can. They did it right. Quickfire enlightenment. No messing around. Just catch the fuck up.
28
@26

OK I'm off today so I got nothing but time to play along.

The Japanese waged an aggressive war of colonization in East Asian. It is estimated that they murdered up to 10 million people in the region. Their uniquely Asian form of racism has unfortunately been overshadowed by the racism of their pals, the Nazis. Here is a good place to start:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_wa…

The Korean occupation was particularly brutal, with many slaves transported to the home islands as slave labor. I'm even going get into the comfort girls, the rape of Nanking, the biological weapons experimentation on Chinese civilians, etc., etc. The Japanese sent their children to murder and plunder their neighbors, worked side by side with slaves in the armament factories and lent moral support to the fascist/militaristic leadership that ruled the country. Don't get me started on the cult of the emperor. I wont suggest that every last Japanese was supporting of the war, but it takes a village to accomplish what the Japanese did, and as with the Nazis, that generation collectively bears the guilt of what happened.

As for the nuclear bombings, one thing that needs the remember is that Japan had the opportunity to surrender unconditionally before August 6, 1945 (see Potsdam ultimatum). They chose not to. If anything they made the final decision as to whether those weapons would ever be used. Secondly, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not civilian targets as you maintain. The Second Army and Chugoku Regional Army were headquartered in Hiroshima, and the Army Marine Headquarters was located at Ujina port. The city also had large depots of military supplies, and was a key center for shipping. (Wikipedia). Nagasaki was home to the Mitsubishi armament plant.

Yes, you are correct that during war both sides are not nice to each other. But to believe in some kind of moral or ethical equivalency between the USA and the Empire of Japan during the second world war shows at best an lack of understanding of the subject, at worst a wholesale revision of the historical record.

29
I'm with Rotten, too. My dad's from Bavaria -- was in the Hitler Youth, for crissakes. When it came time for me to learn about Hitler and the Germans in WWII, I was fascinated, not ashamed, even with my clearly German surname. My dad is gentle, even-tempered, hard-working, music-loving, and kid-indulging. How could a culture that produced my dad have done such things? I went home and asked him what he remembered about that time, how it was that the German people didn't balk when Hitler invaded Poland and France. He explained that the Nazis launched a propaganda campaign claiming ethnic Germans living in Poland were being persecuted by the Poles. As for France, the French declared war first, so it was not considered outrageous that the Nazis invaded and took over. As for the Jews, everyone heard rumors, but nobody knew for sure where they were all going -- he was told they had been sent to Yugoslavia or something, and by then the propaganda against Jews was so thick, very few cared. He made me see that we have to be vigilant towards government, that a government will not hesitate to spin and lie to its people to camouflage acts that it knows people would not otherwise support. When Bush said we were invading Iraq because there were weapons of mass destruction there, I knew it was bullshit spin partly because of this lesson from my father. History teaches us that if we let it, government will get away with murder, and I for one would never have wanted to gag my teacher as he told us about the Nazi atrocities.
30
Quick tangent:

The lady and I have been hooked on watching Soap—a show I only barely remember as a kid—via streaming Netflix just about anytime we're in front of the TV together the last few weeks, and last night (a few episodes into Season 2) Billy Crystal's character talks a young gay woman off a ledge by telling her "it gets better." That was 1978-9.

Not sure if you'd brought that up before, or if it's something that you'd subconsciously remembered all these years, or if you've never seen Soap and it just turns out it's timelessly sound advice.
31
@30: And if my memory banks are not yet corrupted, Jodie Dallas was the first openly gay main character in show run by a major network.
32
@31 - I think you're correct. It's funny, for a show where both physically and socially blunt comedy was its backbone, it still handled the subject matter better than any show on television would for another 30 years.
33
@ 13 - So you'll agree that when we talk about WWII we should first and foremost mention Dresden to discuss the US's role in the war.
34
@33 No, I won't agree that Dresden should be mentioned first and foremost when discussing the US's role, but I will certainly agree that it was fucked up.
35
@ 34 - Fucked up!?! How about "a cruel and absolutely unnecessary massacre"? Or "the undisputable negation of the US's moral high ground"?
36
Harassing gay kids falls under sexual harassment (see http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/edu/typ…) and is protected by federal law. If the school refuses to stop it, they can be reported to the DoJ here: http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/#th….
37
I have always thought that a teacher's role was to educate students in a manner that encouraged the students to open their minds and to grow as individuals. A teacher should be a role model and set a positive example for the students to follow. This 'teacher' does not deserve the title he has been given. A school in general is only as good as the educators it hires, and this school would be mistaken not to relieve him from his position. America wages wars in the name of democracy and freedom. . . yet tragedies such as this story exist within our own borders.
38
Share your outrage with the district superintendent and board members at boardmembers@flaglerschools.com

Go over the head of the local Principal that apparently doesn't give a crap.
39
Insane moron Ricardo-

Japan made a practice of brutality in war. Dresden was an exception to normal US practice overseas. That's why Nanking is representative and Dresden awful but not a negation of ANYTHING.

If you want representative- America saved the world twice in 3 decades. We claimed not one penny of war damages. We claimed not one acre of soil. We did it because it needed done, not for gain. In fact taxpayer money went to rebuilding the damage the cowards in Europe caused by not stopping Hitler earlier. That's representative, you America hating asshole.

So how about you treat this country with respect or move the fuck out? Some of the world has gotten so barbaric that perverts like you can even marry other men, God help them. It's why it's so important that decent places like America hold the line and keep gays from marrying.
40
I did not need to see this today, after learning what happened in Wisconsin. Seriously - adults bullying children?! I'd like to go medieval on that mofo's ass.
41
Here's the response I [promptly] received from the AP Kevin McCarthy:

>>>>I am deeply disturbed any time that I receive information that a student is being harassed. Our school recently established a Gay Straight Alliance to increase awareness about intolerance, and we take every allegation very seriously. While I cannot specifically address this case due to our ongoing investigation, I can personally assure you that the rights of all stakeholders are being taken very seriously into consideration. I am actively involved in this process and very hopeful for a positive outcome that reinforces that all students and staff have a right to attend our school freely.

Kevin P. McCarthy<<<
42
PS that teacher is probably a closet case.
43
Here's my email to the Principal.

How can anyone who chose education turn a blind eye to such behavior against a child in need I do not know. I too am in education with special education, and children are children and they look up to us for guidance and support. No child should be afraid at school. It should be a place of refuge where concern and knowledge is free flowing as air. I hope that no one you love is ever bullied, it's not something I would wish on anyone. I was that child who was bullied, I was strong, and excelled at being a good person who loves and is loved because I had some amazing teachers and administration. If you don't investigate this throughly and take the proper disciplinary actions, you are no better than the bully yourself.
44
Usually I'm a pro-gay anti-jerk-teacher kind of person, but has anyone considered the possibility that this student is overreacting? I mean... the teacher said "hi" in an intimidating way? How could anyone possibly verify this? What if the gay student is overreacting or making it up? And the Pepsi comment... how does that even make sense?! I don't see how that is mocking gay people.
45
#15 Not all schools in Florida are like that. In the schools I've been in homosexual people were never bullied. They are loved and respected. In my school, there has never been much bullying so you saying "It's Florida, It doesn't surprise me" is actually insulting. Not everyone in Florida is homophobic jerks who bully people just because they are different..

46
#15 Not all schools in Florida are like that. In the schools I've been in homosexual people were never bullied. They are loved and respected. In my school, there has never been much bullying so you saying "It's Florida, It doesn't surprise me" is actually insulting. Not everyone in Florida is homophobic jerks who bully people just because they are different..

47
#15 Not all schools in Florida are like that. In the schools I've been in homosexual people were never bullied. They are loved and respected. In my school, there has never been much bullying so you saying "It's Florida, It doesn't surprise me" is actually insulting. Not everyone in Florida are homophobic jerks who bully people just because they are different..

48
Although I wasn't part of it, there was a time when it was commonplace for teachers and students alike to ridicule African Americans in class and the n-word could be passed around like popcorn without consequence. In most schools now, there would be more serious punishment if that word were used. As a high school teacher, I see how comfortable students are with making anti-gay slurs. Most of the time, many teachers make, ignore, or mildly chide "jokes" about sexuality. In my mind, when a teacher ignores the damage being done to a student by name-calling or any other harassment, that's another form of abuse. Treat ALL hate language the same, whether it's the n-word, b-word, or f-word! Don't tolerate it!
49
@39: You say that the European Allies were cowards for not stopping Hitler early. I guess nobody ever told you about how it took Pearl Harbor to get America into the war even after our allies in Great Britain and Free France were giving their damnedest and still losing ground. We had a hell of an isolationist movement that was determined to stop us from giving the Allies anything more than Lend-Lease, under the assumption that all would be well and good if we could just keep to ourselves, and so it took this country several years longer than it should have to read the writing on the wall.
I love America for what it is, warts and all, and pretending that it's never made the wrong choices is an affront to what America stands for.
@35: War is hell.
50
This 'teacher' should actively consider moving to Italy.

An Italian Teacher was sentenced last month to one year in prison (!) for trying to tackle homophobia in her school.

51
Congratulations "Flagler Palm Coast High School" - you have collectively shamed your nation, your state, your town and your fellow citizens. Where were the rest of the staff? Where were the rest of the students? How many times does the cock have to crow before someone stands up and say "Yes I knew this guy, and Yes I knew he was being bullied, and I - for one, and even if alone - am ashamed!"
52
@39: Your view of history is acutely American-centric, and deeply flawed in consequence. America does not educate its young people in the round on this subject: I have had exchange students from the USA who, although ostensibly history majors, were unaware that Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada had played a part, per capita, every bit as great - and for considerably longer - than the United States.
Both WWs I & II were global conflicts, involving many countires, all stretched almost to breaking point long before America joined the conflicts. By the time he was re-deployed to the Pacific, my father, who had joined the New Zealand army two days after war was declared in 1939, was a veteran of campaigns in both Crete and North Africa long before the United States was compelled to acknowledge that Hitler was also their enemy.
That Germany had not been *stopped* in the more than two years before America joined the conflict is a reflection of the immense power of Hitler's war machine, not the *cowardice* of the nations he attacked! An even more pertinent fact is this: had Russia not held out in Stalingrad, Germany would have reached the Baku oilfields (his ultimate objective) and the outcome of the war in Europe would have been very different.
Two other things I should mention: the Pacific campaign was not fought solely by America, and although the USA didn't seek reparations from its conquered enemies, it gained vast resources in overseas funds by charging its allies for the war materiel it supplied. Every bullet, gun, jeep, tank, ship, or plane made available to the Allied military was paid for over the next twenty years. Although I was born two weeks before the end of WWII, I was a grown woman before the "Dollar Debt" was finally paid off.
53
Sadly, having grown up attending rural schools in a town and state to remain unnamed, I do not doubt that a teach would not only not stop bullying but help with it AND that the school would do nothing about it (both the bullying and the teacher's participation). Mine was more along the lines of sexual harassment, but still, just as blatant and inappropriate - and just as tolerated by the school (if not encouraged). And the only thing I'll say about location is no, it was NOT in the South.
54
@ 39: I thought several times before responding to your post, but would like, just this once, to have my say in an American publication.
Like so many of your fellow Americans, your education seems to have been totally American-centric, and derived from a view of history that owes more to myth and propaganda than to reality. I have encountered similar beliefs amongst exchange students from the USA - memorably, a history major who believed that America fought alone in both the Pacific and Europe.
I quote you:
" America saved the world twice in 3 decades. We claimed not one penny of war damages. We claimed not one acre of soil. We did it because it needed done, not for gain. In fact taxpayer money went to rebuilding the damage the cowards in Europe caused by not stopping Hitler earlier."

It's difficult to know which of these myths and fallacies is the most egregious!
To begin with: "the cowards in Europe" were either overwhelmed by the immensely superior power of Germany's war machine or, like the USA, hoped to stay neutral, but failed when reality struck home. It is worth noting that had Russia not held out so desperately at Stalingrad, Hitler would have gained his objective of free access to the Baku oilfileds, and millions more slaves to operate his factories.

Whether America "saved the world" is a moot point - it entered WWI for reasons of its own, after remaining neutral long enough for the combatants to fight themselves almost to a standstill, and subsequently gained immensely from the divvying up of the Ottoman empire.
WWII was slightly different - the USA entered the conflict over two years after war was declared, when England and its Allies had already fought both the Battle of Britain, and the North African campaign - and then only because it was attacked by Japan (Japan's relationship with Germany meant that war was then inevitable). Whether it would have joined the Allies to defeat Hitler we will never know - given the strong isolationist sentiment in the USA, and the considerable support Hitler enjoyed from some sections of its population, it's quite possible they would simply have waited, and allied themselves with the victors.

WWII was a true global conflict - there were few nations not involved, and those who fought, did so to the last of their strength - on the Allies' side, long before America joined in, Britain was supported by Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Rhodesia, Canada, India and nationals from many other nations not formally at war with Germany. Australia and New Zealand, plus many smaller Pacific nations, were deeply involved in the war against Japan - on a per capita basis, some of them even more deeply so than the United States. Many ANZAC troops had already fought both Mediterranean and North African campaigns before they were re-deployed to the Pacific.

Whether the USA claimed territory or not, it gained immense political power from its part in WWII - consider the power derived from its position in NATO and ANZUS, to name but two areas where the US still has a disproportionate level of control.

As for making money out of the war - the defence industry rose to its pr4esent pre-eminence on the sales of war materiel to America's Allies. The US may not have claimed reparations - but it certainly made vast sums out of the war. (I was born three weeks before Japan surrendered: I was an adult before my country had finished paying the *dollar debt* incurred when the US established the terms of Lend-Lease.)
55
Response from Kevin McCarthy, Assistant Principal at Flagler to my email in support of Luke Herbert:

While I cannot specifically address this case at this time, I can assure you that administration has not ignored the gravity of this issue. I personally view every one of our students as my children, and take every allegation of
intolerance very seriously. I have lost family and friends to suicide, and never want anyone to have to go through that. Last year we started a Gay Straight Alliance to educate the campus and support all students. We have adopted a sensitivity curriculum, are establishing a peer mediation program, and are proud to have a diverse student population and staff the includes openly gay individuals. Every allegation is thoroughly investigated, and I am hopeful that we will have resolution on this case very soon at which time the school will issue a statement. It will not end there, though. We need to redouble our efforts to increase tolerance and acceptance for all on our campus. I too share
your frustration, sadness, and anger every time I read or hear of a student being hurt. It is critical that we all speak up about and stand up to intolerance.

Kevin P. McCarthy
56
My email:

I have read about Luke Herbert's story on several news outlets, and I am tremendously saddened. It would be one thing if you were running a school where the students were allowed to freely bully one of their classmates — and it would still be a horrible, disgusting thing — but you have allowed a TEACHER to bully one of your students, which is unthinkable. You have simply failed. You have failed to establish a safe space in your school in the most fundamental way. It is difficult to create an attitude of acceptance among teenagers, certainly, but hiring a teacher who would pick on a student for his sexual orientation is a brazen disregard for your duty to protect your students. Failing to FIRE that teacher, immediately, is complicity in his bigotry. I cannot see how you can justify keeping this teacher on staff. Luke Herbert has been victimized, and you have been part of that victimization by showing him that bigots can act freely and abuse him with impunity, and he will not be defended by his school system or community. You have failed as an educator and a member of your community, and you ought to be ashamed until you put this right. Luke Herbert deserves an apology, from you, and the offending teacher needs to be fired. Not disciplined, but removed from an environment in which he can continue to victimize children.
57
@39

I love how people who claim to know "history" only learn the selective parts that build up their fragile egos, and ignore the rest. For example, Hitler & the Nazis had a lot of sympathy throughout the western world. (Ever hear of the MS St Louis?) The main threat in the thirties was Stalin, and so the western democracies, including the US, tolerated Hitler. No matter how awful things got in Germany, at least it wasn't communist was the conventional wisdom. Among the private industrialists, Hitler was a winner. Henry Ford was not only an admirer of Hitler, he heavily invested in Nazi Germany. Another supporter & heavy investor was Prescott Bush, beloved father & grandfather of future presidents. I suppose these are the "cowards" you refer to in your screed. Except they were American. I doubt you'll be able to wrap your head around how many Americans supported Hitler, so you'll either bleat none of that matters or find some minor flaw, thus rendering the whole thing moot. Which is typical of people who have been taught one thing and refuse to admit that it was wrong.

As Venomlash points out, the US in the 30's were very isolationist, in spite of FDR. Isolationism was a cherished value of the conservatives. The type of folks who tend to look at history in jingoistic, simplistic terms.