- Earlier this week, a gay student was beaten in the locker room of his Alexandria, Indiana, high school.
- Video of the beating was shared on social media and was sent to the victim’s mother, who shared it with WTHR.
- The student claims he was beaten because of his sexual identity. A police investigation has been opened.
- The school’s principal condemned the attack but stopped short of saying it was motivated by the student’s sexual identity. People who said they were past graduates of the school posted that the school had a history of intolerance directed towards LGBTQ students.
- Insider spoke with one student who says she witnessed the intolerance first hand.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A gay Indiana high school student is speaking out after videos surfaced of another student violently beating him in his school’s locker room. The student told WTHR that his classmate specifically beat him because of his sexual orientation.
Video of the attack quickly spread online. According to WTHR, one student even sent the video over text message to the victim’s mother. “I’m not okay, but I will be,” the unnamed student told WTHR through a voice distorter to conceal his identity.
The altercation started with pushing. Moments later, the pushing ceased, but not for long.
“He stopped pushing me and everything got quiet so I thought he walked out [of the locker room],” the student said. In the video, which was sent to WTHR from the student’s mother, the attacker can be seen re-entering the frame and pummeling the student in the head. Two other students kept the attacked student from moving while the punches landed. The student told WTHR that he knew his attackers and that they had long teased him about being gay.
The student’s nose was bloodied and his head was injured from slamming against the bathroom mirror. According to a report from The Herald Bulletin, other classmates were in the locker room, but rather than help, they pulled out their phones and started recording. The beating only ended when another student reportedly stepped in to break up the fight.
A spokesperson for Alexandria Community School Corporation sent Insider an emailed statement regarding the attack.
“We are deeply troubled by Tuesday’s fight in the high school boy’s locker room,” the spokesperson said. “The fight is still under investigation by the administration and Alexandria Police Department, so no further statement can be made at this time. We want to assure our families and community that we will continue to work hard to provide a safe, caring, and supportive learning environment for all our students.”
Police have launched an investigation
The Alexandria Police Department confirmed with Insider that an investigation has been opened looking into the fight. During an interview with The Herald Bulletin, Alexandria Police Chief Matt Ellis said he could not rule out the possibility that the attack was motivated by the victim’s sexuality, but added a caveat, saying it was too early to make a definitive judgment.
In that same Herald Bulletin story, Alexandria Monroe’s principal, Tom Johns, condemned the attack but stopped short of saying the assaulter was motivated by the student’s sexuality.
“At this point in time, we don’t have evidence pointing to it being discriminatory about sexual orientation,” Johns told The Daily Bulletin. The principal said the main attacker seen in the video has been “reprimanded” and said the school was still trying to identify the other students involved. Johns did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In the Daily Bulletin interview, Johns heralded the school’s acceptance of LGBTQ students but deflected part of the responsibility onto parents.
“I feel like we have an open dialogue with all of our students,” Johns said. “We try to do everything we can to teach tolerance and acceptance. At the end of the day, the parents have the responsibility to teach open-mindedness and acceptance.”
“The school is not very accepting at all.”
If the police investigation determines the assault was motivated by the student’s sexuality, it won’t be the first instance of intolerance levied against the school. Insider interviewed a 2018 graduate who said the school is, “not very accepting at all,” of LGBTQ students.
“There are some people who are accepting but there’s [sic] also people who still use homophobic and transphobic slurs,” the former student, who wished to remain anonymous, said. In one instance, the student recalled one of her transgender friends reaching out to the school’s guidance counselor, only to have the counselor threaten to out the student’s gender identity to their parents if they did not come out to their parents themselves.
The principal’s telling of LGBTQ relations at the school also contradicts some other first-hand accounts. Several students who claim to have attended Alexandria Monroe High School reacted to the news on Twitter with their own stories.
One Twitter user, going by the name Brandon, posted that he was a graduate of the school and had seen discrimination first hand.
“I have experienced first hand how little this school regards LGBTQ students’ safety,” the user wrote. “I have seen complaints of harassment, completely ignored by the administration. I have seen them shoot down every attempt to spread awareness that we tried.” The Twitter user did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
I have experienced first hand how little this school regards LGBT students' saftey. Not only their physical safety, as shown here, but their mental and emotional safety as well. I have seen complaints of harassment completely ignored by this administration. (2)
— Brandon (@AnImpulsiveMess) August 22, 2019
I have seen them shoot down every attempt to spread awareness we tried. And I have had to sit next to people as they proclaim their hatred for people like me while teachers did nothing. All the while this administration made us feel alone and unwanted. (3)
— Brandon (@AnImpulsiveMess) August 22, 2019
In another series of posts, a Twitter user said they had graduated from the school and saw bullying of LGBTQ students with regularity.
The school did not respond to Insider’s repeated requests for comment on the handling of LGBTQ issues on campus.
The 2018 graduate who spoke to Insider said the school could be doing more to address these issues, including adding a nondiscrimination section to the student handbook highlighting sexuality and gender.
“They as educators are the voice of the students,” the former student said. “They should be standing up for all their students.”
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