Teens! They’re always up to something. Sometimes they’re inventing cool new slang words or posting selfies on social media, and then the next thing you know they’re organizing a hate movement in their local high school. In response to last week’s Day of Silence, an annual event held in support of bullied or oppressed LGBT youth, a group of students at McGuffey High School outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania decided to organize their own Anti-Gay Day.
What does one do on Anti-Gay Day? A lot of shitty stuff, it seems. Students planned to wear flannel shirts (the straightest of fabrics I guess?) to announce their participation in the event. They also wrote anti-gay slogans and slurs on their hands, and according to news reports, prepared a “lynch list” of students who supported The Day of Silence or the school sanctioned Gay-Straight Alliance. These students were to be targeted for harassment and bullying.
Unsurprisingly, the event got out of hand. “Yesterday, there was pushing, posters hung on homosexual students’ lockers. Teachers were having to run out and take them down,” McGuffey student Zoe Johnson told local news station WPXI yesterday.
The school takes a different view than Johnson. In a statement released yesterday, superintendent Dr. Erica Kolat says that no school official has been made aware of the reported “lynch list” and that none of the harassment complaints filed thus far have included physical harassment. According to Kolat, school officials and police are continuing to investigate and are seeking additional witnesses who may be able to provide more information.
WPXI reports that the students behind the protest have planned an entire week of anti-gay activities. An Instagram post from one of the students involved suggests, in a grammatically convoluted way, that each day will have its own color and fabric theme. In recent years social media has provided a phenomenal organizing tool for hate groups, bigots, and the socially maladjusted. Now bullying organized on the internet can spill over into the halls of a school, leaving teachers with little recourse to control it.
However, it has also been a tool for hope. A counter protest organized through Facebook took place Monday afternoon in front of the school, offering a supportive message to students who felt threatened.
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