NORTH BEND, Ore. (KEZI/CNN) – Students at an Oregon high school say discrimination against LGBTQ students is rampant.
Their claims reached state officials who sent a letter to school district leaders detailing the allegations.
North Bend High School is the place where those alleged instances of discrimination, as outlined in the letter from the Oregon Department of Education, happened.
These allegations include students being called slurs, an LGBTQ-identifying student having their hand broken after being called a homophobic slur, and a teacher likening same-sex marriage to marrying a dog in front of a classroom full of students.
That teacher was later told to apologize to those students.
While KEZI was speaking with students about this, the high school secretary came up and joined in on the conversation.
Secretary Corky Clark said, “I’ll go to bat for you right down to the wire. I’ll lay down for any student who I think is being unfairly treated, and we’ll go together. Had we known different things, we could do that.
Student Brittany Vickoren responded by talking about the biggest issues she is seeing around the school. She said, “And I don’t feel like it’s just one person. Of course, it’s not just one person and it’s not the whole school that doesn’t care. But, there are teachers and there are staff that have chosen to take a different approach to things, like discriminate against students and do different things, and ignore students when they have come with complaints. Of course, it’s not every single person and it’s not just one person, but there are people who don’t feel like these students need help and they don’t feel like it’s important to help these students. But, it really is and it makes a difference to the whole community and the whole student body when the teachers show that they don’t care. It makes students uncomfortable to be on their campus.”
Clark agrees and says she wants to help these students make the change that they feel needs to happen. “And we need to make a change. And I think that by you speaking out, then that’s something that we can do about that. If we know for sure that that’s how you feel and what’s going on and stuff, we need to just keep bringing it up and bringing it up, bringing it up, until we get it done.”
Along with allegations of discrimination in the letter from the Department of Education, students told the department that they were hesitant to come forward about their issues because of the administrators’ religious beliefs.
They say they knew of an incident where a student was forced to read the Bible as a form of punishment.
The school district has acknowledged that issue and in a press release stated that they have taken corrective action.
The Oregon Department of Education will be holding a hearing with the North Bend School District on May 24th, to decide if the district did, in fact, allow discrimination on the high school’s campus.