Images provided by author. Top: WHS senior Briana in pride outfit.
We’ve all heard the countless calls to action against bullying, and might even believe that it’s no longer an issue. But our inaction has left Washington students to face physical and verbal harassment by their peers to no avail.
The first day of Multicultural Week was Pride Day, where queer and trans* students and their allies showed support for the diverse LGBTQIA+ community here at Washington. Students wore clothing in all shades of the rainbow, proudly showcasing their identities for all to see. But for an unfortunate minority, this event brought bullying from their peers. Two students have bravely shared their experiences from that day.
Brianna, a senior, says “We faced harassment of people barking and following us, and yelling at us outside of school. We reached out to teachers [after the incident] but the most that happened was they got ‘talked to’ but it didn’t do much. I think people should take it more seriously, take in regard that this is school and just talking to people over and over isnt going to do anything. We need more action to take place.”
Raine is a senior as well, and friends with Brianna. She says the same group of students barked, laughed, and mocked her. Unfortunately, teachers said they couldn’t do much because “the people barking weren’t in their classes.” But a few were willing to provide support in any way that they could. “Mr. Gil helped talk to the people about it, and offered to escort us if we felt unsafe. Dr. Alves also helped as well. It may not be much but at least these two adults tried to do something. The barking has lessened a lot more.”
Don’t forget to educate those who choose to be friends with people like this, join in, or even defend this behavior. They often go unnoticed though they play a big part with their complicit behavior. All are at fault.
I asked her what repercussions the bullies should face for their actions. “Suspension,” she said. “If a person laughs at the idea of constantly making a person feel uncomfortable or unsafe simply by walking in school they should truly understand the weight and consequences of their actions. Don’t forget to educate those who choose to be friends with people like this, join in, or even defend this behavior. They often go unnoticed though they play a big part with their complicit behavior. All are at fault.” Bystanders to bullying are just as guilty as the perpetrators.
An anonymous student shares their experiences with bullying: “I’ve experienced a group of boys, presumably sophomores, throw juice boxes and apples at me and a couple of bystanders by the cherry blossom trees near the cafeteria. They were on the 2nd floor of the F building and managed to strike me with an apple while I was sitting in the courtyard. I’ve also witnessed a senior upskirt one of my friends, the same senior who had been harassing my other friend with his group by barking and verbally provoking her. I’ve gone to the senior’s math teacher to ask for assistance, but the math teacher did not want to get involved since he ‘did not witness the incident.’ He instead told me to talk to the administrator or the counselors. Teachers are mandated reporters. Whether or not something was witnessed should not mean they do not take action. It’s naive to believe that bullying as a whole can be stopped at Washington. But there are many ways to help kids that are going through harassment, and I believe schools, peers, and teachers can lessen their impact. There are always options, and although what the victim is going through is not fair or their fault, it is still their responsibility to take action to defend themselves.”