A 13-year-old transgender girl was physically assaulted at school for being ‘different’
School staff did not report the attack because video footage wasn’t clear
The student has been the target of hate crimes at school
Staff, in some cases, joined the bullying
Middle school can be a social minefield for even the most conformist of students, but add constant bullying with a lack of substantive response from teachers and school administrators, and you have a recipe for discrimination — and, worse, violence.
That’s exactly what has been happening to 13-year-old transgender student, Lindsey — whose last name and those of family members are being withheld because she is a minor — for months at Vancouver, Washington’s McLaughlin Middle School.
But a recent incident has Lindsey’s aunt, Leslie, furious nothing has been done to protect the girl who began transitioning from male to female during the fifth grade, and who hadn’t acted to provoke the situation. In a public post to social media, Leslie — who also spoke with The Daily Haze — passionately implored,
Lindsey “is the victim of hate crimes every day in her middle school which is McLaughlin Middle School in Vancouver Wa. My sister has gone to the principal on numerous occasions with complaints of not only students seeking out and harassing my niece, but the teachers as well! They will call her by her birth name and call her a boy in front of the entire class!! She asks them to please not do that and they tell her they won’t stop! The principal has been no help.”
As if that weren’t sufficiently egregious, Leslie continued, “Well today a male student walked down the halls of the school and was yelling my nieces name and saying ‘she is a boy’ and ‘she has a D***’ and ‘she has to go to the Dr’s to tell them she’s a girl’ and the male student walked up to her and punched her in the face 2 to 3 times! The school did not call the police nor did they suspend the male student because ‘the cameras couldn’t clearly see what happened’ and 3 students claimed that my niece pushed the male student first. My niece’s nose was bleeding and it may be broke. You can’t see the bruising super well yet on her cheek, but it will be a good one by this time tomorrow! Please share this, I want everybody to know what this middle school is allowing student’s and teachers to do to my niece!”
Lindsey’s aunt noted only the lone male student acted violently, but his friends “claimed that Lindsey pushed him first and she is saying that she didn’t. She has always been very open about whether or not she participated in a physical fight and she says she absolutely didn’t touch him. The school’s defense is ‘we couldn’t see the video very well so we can’t punish the male student for assault or report it to the police.’”
Leslie told The Daily Haze it was important to share the incident publicly to show what this public school — which has a duty to protect the safety of its pupils — allowed to happen to a girl of just 13 years of age. She believed but could not confirm one substitute teacher had been fired for behavior concerning Lindsey.
“My sister is either going to or having to call the school at least once a week due to other students name called and threatening Lindsey. The school never takes it serious and says there isn’t anything they can do about it and always act as though Lindsey is basically asking for this since she is so different,” Leslie explained.
Now, Lindsey awaits word from the doctor on whether bones were fractured in the attack — but once she recovers, there will be no return to McLaughlin Middle School. Leslie told us they hope for an extension to allow Lindsey to attend school in the same district as her other siblings.
While Lindsey is a minor, Leslie wanted to share pictures — both to show what hate had caused and to prove it could be countered — because “there are so many people out there that find her beautiful just the way she Is!”
The Daily Haze reached out to both McLaughlin Middle School and the district, but was unable to reach the appropriate parties at press time.
For too long now, The Daily Haze has covered the epidemic of bullying in schools across the country. For those who might not grasp why the topic of bullying has become so pervasive — or assume it reflects a ‘softening’ of culture — understand modern bullies have the tools of a god compared to those just two or three decades ago.
Social media and the Internet provide an invaluable resource for students — but separation provided by a computer or phone screen makes vicious behavior more tenable than exchanges made in the flesh. This is bullying on steroids.
We don’t have to all get along or be friendly to each other to make sweeping reforms that would benefit all of us — but we do need tolerance and acceptance and a willingness to look past differences that should be celebrated in the first place, not excoriated as flaws.
[UPDATE] There will be a gathering in support of Lindsey outside the school at 3 p.m. local time on Friday. Leslie has invited everyone to attend and to show Lindsey you don’t agree with the school’s handling of the attack and harassment. The school’s address is 5802 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver, Washington 98661.
“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” — Pres. John F. Kennedy