A Florida teacher is under attack because he asked two fifth grade female students if they were in a relationship before the class and caused one of the students to drop out of school.
Jezinia Gambino, the mother of one of the students, told NBC subsidiary WPTV that “the rumor was that my daughter and another fifth grade little girl were dating”. After learning about the rumor, the teacher called the children together before class and asked them if they were a couple “in a way that they felt in trouble,” said Gambino.
After the incident, Gambino said that her daughter had received an SMS from the other student, saying that she was “not sure that she shouldn’t hang around because of the events at school.”
“She didn’t want anyone to think they were gay,” Gambino said of the other students.
Gambino said her daughter felt humiliated and would be taught at home for at least the rest of the year. “What they did to my daughter worked so much that I have to go back and fix it now,” she added.
The teacher was reported to the Florida Department of Education for engaging in inappropriate communication with students and was warned verbally, according to the WPTV.
Regardless of the perceived sexuality of the two students, a 2016 report by Human Rights Watch found that many public schools in the U.S. are hostile to LGBTQ youth. The report documents several examples of school administrators complaining of homophobic abuse to students.
Ryan Thoreson, an LGBTQ researcher at Human Rights Watch, said these incidents happened because so few schools train teachers and administrators for LGBTQ’s cultural literacy.
“One of the most surprising findings from our research into LGBT problems in US schools was that many students said teachers and administrators were a bigger problem for them than other students,” Thoreson wrote in an email on Wednesday. “Other students knew that it wasn’t okay to be openly homophobic or transphobic, but school staff publicly humiliated LGBT children for who they were dating, what they wore, or how they identified.”
A number of incidents of school officials abusing LGBTQ students have released national news over the past year. In November 2018, a deputy school principal from a West Virginia public school was accused of molesting a 15-year-old transgender boy and following him into the bathroom of a private Christian school for “behavioral issues” after being pictured with a rainbow birthday cake was. Her mother later filed a lawsuit alleging that her daughter was excluded because of her “perceived sexuality.”
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