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A 16-year old boy from Whitewater High, Fayette County, Georgia, taunted with homophobic slurs on a school bus, threatened to go Columbine on his school in retaliation. He was suspended for 10 days and charged with making a terrorist threat. When his home was searched, there was no evidence of weapons of any kind.
Obviously, threatening to kill classmates is a very serious matter and students who make such threats should be disciplined. However, this kid was no terrorist. He was a tormented teen who felt abandoned by the adults in his life and who lacked the emotional resources to handle a stressful and difficult situation. Even if he had wanted to kill his classmates, he lacked the weapons to do so.
Meanwhile, Whitewater High has made no statement critical of bullying or anti-gay slurs. There has been no move to punish those who had been tormenting the boy. By failing to discipline the bullies, the school has sent a message to students that bullying and homophobia are acceptable and will be tolerated at Whitewater High.
This story reoccurs far too often in America. I remember a similar situation at a school I taught at. Two lesbian students were eating lunch together, when a group of students started shouting anti-gay slurs at the girls and then began to pelt them with food and bottles. In the end, the victims of the bullying were suspended, along with only one of the many attackers. The only attempt my school made to address the matter was to encourage teachers to encourage their students to attend a voluntary debriefing of the incident to be hosted by some of the school's leadership students. Needless to say, bullying continued at that school.
If you would like to do something about this injustice, Change.org has started a petition drive. You can tell school administrators at Whitewater High School to adopt a zero tolerance bullying policy, one that is inclusive of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and gives all students equally a welcoming, safe and affirming environment.