Hundreds of students staged a protest in support of a pupil who was allegedly bullied for months and then assaulted for ‘looking different’ and because of his sexuality.
In another US high school walkout over treatment of LGBT+ students, pupils at Lee’s Summit, Missouri demanded action over bullying directed at Danny Lillis, who is gay, on Monday (4 October), with over 100 students leaving class early to stand outside the premises, some holding signs and LGBTQ+ flags.
Kansas City Star reports that Lillis and his friends had been bullied by another group of students, who would hurl food and hateful slurs at them, since the beginning of the academic year. The protests were held over the school allegedly failing to appropriately act or respond.
Lillis says he reported the incidents to school administrators at least four times, “crying, saying ‘I don’t feel safe’ repeatedly. And nothing changed.”
After several weeks of this happening, Lillis and his friends are said to have confronted the bullies on Wednesday (29 October), which resulted in a physical altercation on the school grounds where Lillis was suffered cuts and bruises and a female friend was left with a broken nose.
It’s reported that no teachers were present for the altercation, so the students had to break up the fight themselves.
Speaking to local news outlet KSHB, Lillis said: “We decided to do the walk out today to basically show movement towards our school and administration for the lack of action toward these repeated and multiple events that have been happening to me and my friends”.
“I’m terrified to step another foot in that school. To walk into a building where someone had just punched my friend and broke her nose due to this whole situation.”
Had a walkout at school,Gay kid was bullied for months and assaulted last week. All parties got suspended even though the victim had a broken nose. Half the school was out there. Lee's Summit High School administration: do better. Lee's Summit High School students: good job pic.twitter.com/EZbMGfN7AZ— Gamerboy: Natty Season #BLM 🏳️🌈 (@GamerboyHourz) October 4, 2021
As a result of the fight, Lillis said that everyone involved was given out-of-school suspension for five days.
Melanie Davies, parent of the girl who had her nose broken, said: ‘Every single time that this happened, our kids have gone to student administration and reported it”
“They have given them a hard time for Danny being gay, for him wearing makeup to school, for him expressing himself”.
‘There is supposed to be a zero tolerance policy for bullying, but nobody is doing anything about it. They have not gotten the help that they needed.’
A spokesperson for the school district said: ‘We support our students’ right to express their voice peacefully and are communicating with students about the best ways we can support them.
‘Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is committed to supporting and working together with students to address their concerns with fairness, dignity and respect.’
A Change.org petition calling for “LGBTQ+ safety at Lee’s Summit High School” had garnered nearly 2,700 signatures by the end of the walkout on Monday.