The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
*Trigger warning: hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ community
School is meant to be a place of discovery and learning, and part of this is ensuring that campuses are a safe environment for students to do so. When students feel secure in their learning environment, they are more likely to prosper in their academics. It is also important to remember that not every student comes from happy home life, therefore it is imperative to make school a safe space for them.
Within the past couple of months, there have been several instances of hate crimes on two high school campuses in the San Luis Obispo area. Both of these violations were targeting the LGBTQIA+ community.
Paso Robles high school is currently dealing with the after-effects of an LGBTQIA+ driven hate crime involving the abuse of a Pride flag on campus, according to The Tribune. The report stated that the pride flag was taken down, and soon after, a TikTok video emerged showing someone attempting to flush the flag down a toilet. Paso Robles high school also had a face mask with the Pride logo abused on campus. The high school has since contacted authorities for these crimes.
Arroyo Grande high school (AGHS) has also recently faced LGBTQIA+ driven hate crimes, according to The Tribune. The crime happened immediately following the high school’s Kindness Week, which promotes kindness to the school community with dress-up days for the week. AGHS had a chalk-made Pride mural on campus until a group of students purposefully dumped a liquid on it, completely ruining the mural.
These three instances are not merely accidents or coincidences, they are clearly hate-driven crimes towards their peers in the LGBTQIA+ community. So, how are the administrators at these schools taking action?
Paso Robles high school’s first response included a letter to the school community and the banning of Pride flags larger than 2’x3’, according to The Tribune. However, after the mask incident also occurred, the school made a more forceful statement saying that these violations are not tolerable and consequences will be made.
AGHS made a similar statement after their incident, and also created a “tip line” for students to be able to submit future incidents.
Students themselves have also begun to take action. At Paso Robles high school, students stood with their LGBTQIA+ peers and created banners that were placed around campus. They also gave LGBTQIA+ students a greater voice through an assembly where those students could speak out about hate-driven instances that they have personally had to deal with. Students also called on their administration to take more action, including changing policies.
It is important that schools are doing more to take action against these hate-driven violations, but there is much more to do in order to protect students. These hate crimes can have extremely negative impacts on students of these schools who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community.
There is a lot more that schools can do to protect students, but it is hard when they don’t receive proper funding. Unfortunately, there is also only so much that policies will stop hate crimes like these. That is why we, as a community, need to support the LGBTQIA+ community as well. By showing our support through assemblies, marches, and public awareness, we can show these students that we stand with them and give them the support they need to feel safe at school.