Where Are The Graphics?

Home | Resources | Calendar | Receive Announcements | Submit a Resource | Advertise on this Site!
Today is Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Gay Bashing Incident at Highland Park High School

[HIGHLAND PARK, MI] -A recent gay bashing incident at Highland Park Community High School left the victim hospitalized in intensive care for more than a week with fractured ribs and other wounds, and ten of his alleged assaulters permanently dismissed in expulsion hearings conducted by the HP school board. Details are sketchy because members of the faculty and administrative staff will not release the names of those involved due to their legal status as minors.

The mid-May incident occurred after a rumor swept the school when two girls claimed they saw the victim, a male freshman, in a stairwell engaged in a sexual activity with another student widely perceived to be openly gay. The other student was able to flee to safety in the school office, but as many as 30 students ganged up on the freshman student, according to several 11th graders who witnessed the attack.

One of them, Donnie, a 17-year old junior, said, "Somebody yelled 'there goes that faggot' and chased him into an empty classroom. He tried to lock himself inside, but they got in."

Ten suspects were singled out and immediately suspended pending the expulsion hearings, which were initially set for May 23 but were unable to be conducted when four of the seven members of the school board did not show up and the board failed to convene a quorum. The hearings were postponed until the following week.

Outraged parents of the suspended students vented their frustration and anger at the board and the high school principal Charles Parker, concerned that by the time a decision was made regarding the students' fate, many would have fallen too far behind in their schoolwork and would be unable to graduate on time.

The subsequent hearing was closed upon the request of one of the parents and attempts to obtain records of the outcome of the case have been unsuccessful. However, the ten youths were ultimately expelled and did not graduate. Several attempts were also made to get Parker to discuss the case or comment on the Highland Park School Board policy toward the rights of gay students, but he steadfastly declined to be interviewed. Interim school superintendent John D. White also did not return calls.

Two other juniors named Jonathan and Marcel claim that at least one of the suspended students was not actually involved in the fight, but was tossed out because he was a witness who refused to reveal the names of others who were. "The whole thing was bogus," Jonathan said. "How are you going to throw somebody out when he would get beat up for snitching? Are they going to walk him home and protect him? Security at this school is a joke."

Donnie, Jonathan and Marcel all agreed they didn't personally have problems with gay students in general, but that they are reviled by most of the other kids. "As long as they keep it to themselves, it's nobody's business," Donnie said. He concluded by saying that fights break out all the time at the school "over stupid stuff," but none of them have been this serious.

Homophobic attacks of this nature can have devastating aftershocks. Victims often spiral into depression and self-loathing, and can ultimately engage in suicidal behavior.

In extreme instances, the victim can lash out from pent-up feelings of fear, revenge and self-defense at those who assail them. A student named Charles Andrew Williams, who was retaliating against his classmates for teasing him and calling him gay, committed the recent shootings at San Diego's Santana High School. The gunmen in at least four other school shootings-those from Moses Lake, WA, Pearl, MS, West Paducah, KY, Littleton, CO and Santee, CA-were reported to have been targets of anti-gay harassment.

Dr. Kofi Adoma, a clinical psychologist who teaches an introduction to LGBT studies course in the Women's Department at University of Michigan, is all-too-painfully aware of this invisible phenomenon. A graduate of Highland Park High School who was recently inducted into its Hall of Fame, she has personally intervened with Parker, offering her services as counselor to ensure that this student does fall victim a second time to indifference.

"He seemed very open and responsive to my overtures," she reports, adding that he promised to pass her offer along to the young man and his family.

Dr. Kofi, as she likes to be called, also sits on the boards of the Ruth Ellis Center and Karibu House, two Detroit-area agencies dedicated to helping African American lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youths through the turbulence that frequently erupts during their coming out process. The center's office, which doubles as a drop-in center for youth is located at 16525 Woodward Avenue, Suite 19, in Highland Park. It offers food, clothing, hygiene and safe sex kits, counseling and references for HIV testing and shelters. The phone number is .

Another place that gays and lesbians, as well as their families, friends and allies can turn for reconciliation is the meetings of Family Reunion, a Detroit chapter of P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays). Co-founded one year ago by educator Imani Williams, Maple Flag, and attorney Alicia Skillman, to serve the unique needs of black families struggling to come to grips with the issue of homosexuality, the group meets on the 2nd Monday of each month at First Congregational Church at 33 E. Forest near Woodward, from 6:30-8:30. The group can be reached at or by email at [email protected].

Affirmations, the Ferndale-based outreach program, offers similar services, including an evening help line for gay youth. The number is 1 800 398-GAYS.

Check out this House About Our News Feed | Get Our News Feed (XML)
Search Google
Search Google |