Local School Accused of Anti-Gay Discrimination

HESPERIA, Calif. (KTLA) — Some students at a school in Hesperia say they’re being bullied, and they say those bullies are their teachers and administrators.

“It’s demeaning, and it makes you feel less than human,” said Kyle Bodola, president of the Gay Straight Alliance club at Sultana High School.

The members of the GSA have turned to the ACLU for help.

The ACLU has sent a letter to the district in the hopes of solving what the students say is a growing problem of discrimination against the school’s gay, lesbian and transgender population.

Among their claims are that teachers and students are allowed to make derogatory and hurtful comments.

Along with alleged discrimination, the students say their events are often censored by the principal.

And with the school’s prom just over a month away, they fear they’ll be denied the right to express themselves and wear what makes them feel comfortable, regardless of their gender.

“It’s sad just becasue I’m scared, but I would honestly like to wear a dress to prom,” Bodola said.

“Me, personally, I would like to wear a tux and heels to prom, and I’m afraid that if I show up with heels, I won’t be able to get on the bus to go to prom,” student Levi Smithson-Johnson said.

“California law could not be clearer than it is that schools cannot discriminate against students because of their sexual orientation or gender expression,” said Melissa Goodman, an attorney for the ACLU.

“The GSA isn’t something you can just get rid of,” student Amber Stanford insisted.

And the students believe that by speaking out, they can make their school a more welcoming and safe place to learn.

“I want to see these faculty members to become educated on the right way and the lawful way to treat students,” Bodola said.

The Hesperia Unified School District has responded, with Interim Superintendent David McLaughlin saying:

“These allegations are deeply concerning and they have my full and focused attention.

I will personally oversee the review of all policies and practices that strive to ensure that all staff and students can attend school in a safe, welcoming and nurturing environment.”

–Sara Welch, KTLA News

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