Pa. High School Students Come Under Fire for 'Anti-Gay Day'

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Tuesday April 21, 2015

Students at a high school in Pennsylvania are coming under fire from school officials after they held an "Anti-Gay Day" last Thursday in a response to their fellow students taking part in the national anti-bullying Day of Silence.

According to news station WPXI, a group of students at McGuffey High School in Claysville, Pa., asked students who identify as "anti-gay" to participate in their "Anti-Gay Day" by wearing flannel shirts to school and writing "Anti-Gay" on their hands. The students stuck Bible verses on LGBT student's lockers and, as BuzzFeed reports, students also passed out a "lynch list," which contained students who took part in Day of Silence, and tied a noose to a flag in a classroom.

"We came in to school on Thursday and found a lot of people wearing flannel and we couldn't figure out why," Zoe Johnson, a 16-year-old bisexual student told BuzzFeed News. "People started getting pushed and notes were left on people's lockers."

The anti-gay protest took place after the high school's Gay-Straight Alliance participated in the Day of Silence, where about 30 to 50 participants, according to Johnson.

"It was a very nice feeling to see that many people participating," she told BuzzFeed.

The student also told WPXI Friday that during the anti-gay day "there was pushing, posters hung on homosexual students' lockers. Teachers were having to run out and take them down." She added that the group posted Bible verses to social media and tagged gay students at the high school.

"It hurts me to see how rude and cruel, and some of these people were my friends before this started," she said.

Johnson told BuzzFeed about 50 people took part in the anti-gay protest.

"I got called a dyke, a faggot," Johnson said. "They were calling us every horrible name you can think of."

Kathy Cameron, chair of the board of directors of the Washington County Gay Straight Alliance, told BuzzFeed News that "the instigators, the bullies, seemed to be very proud of their efforts, and posted many smiling pictures online."

Johnson and her classmates met with school officials and administrators at a board meeting Thursday and discussed the anti-gay bullying day.

"We had a really positive reaction," she told Buzzfeed. "Both the superintendent and assistant superintendent shook my hand. It was very positive. You could tell whose side they were truly on."

Cameron said the board was "appalled" students were exposed to their fellow students' behavior.

Dr. Erica Kolat, superintendent of McGuffey School District, issued a statement to BuzzFeed Monday:

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, allegations of harassment were brought to administration's attention following the McGuffey High School Gay-Straight Alliance Club's observance of GLSEN's "Day of Silence." Administration and school police officers have been investigating all allegations and continue to do so.

At this time, no witnesses have seen the rumored "lynch list" that was mentioned in previous news reports. Additionally, no statements have included physical harassment.

Our investigation is ongoing, and we encourage anyone with information to contact McGuffey School District administration immediately.

McGuffey School District is committed to providing a safe, supportive environment for all children.

According to the Raw Story, some students said they were afraid to return to school after the weekend, however. BuzzFeed notes a small group showed support or LGBT students by holding up pro-LGBT posters in front of McGuffey High School Monday morning.