After a year and a half of complaints about being homophobically taunted, harassed and physically attacked…11 year old Brenton Peraita of Yuba City, California was overheard saying he wished he had a gun to deal with the bullies in his life — and quicker than you can say ‘zero tolerance’ Brenton was arrested.
In fact Brenton was hauled away from school in a squad car.
It seems Brenton’s corresponding wishful threat could be heard loud and clear even as the ongoing threats and targeting of him as a homo were barely a tremor on the Riverbend faculty radar. (video can be seen here)
“They called me names and stuff,” Brenton said. “They called me ‘Brentina,’ and ‘homo,’ and ‘fag,'” he says. The Peraita’s say bullies also broke Brenton’s glasses. They say the problem has been ongoing for months, and they have gone to the school to complain 50 times. “We don’t have a gun. That was the day he decided to stand-up for himself,” Jose Peraita said. Police confirmed that no actual gun was located in the course of their investigation.
But the school says, hey don’t look at us, we’re pretty sure Brenton and his father are lying.
“Not only did nothing get corrected, it actually escalated,” said Jose Peraita. But school officials say they have held assemblies and taken other steps to address the bullying problem. “We understand that it does happen, and we’re not going to say it doesn’t. Let’s be realistic,” said Bruce Morton, the school’s director of attendance and student welfare. “But I will tell you when I heard ‘a year and a half,’ and there were ’50 times,’ I can tell you that number is way out of whack.”
Because who could possibly believe that homophobic taunts, threats and harassment would go unnoticed daily in a school environment – seriously, who would believe an accusation so out of whack might drive a student to wish for a gun to defend himself while at school ?
Well perhaps anyone capable of reading an educational book, research report, or even a mainstream press article on the anti-gay climate, the pervasive gender policing, and the ubiquitous homophobic taunts in schools might not find Brenton’s claims so unbelievable. But as you can see the Riverbend Director of Student Welfare is calling us on this one… we’re just not being realistic.
So for a small dose of reality here are a few past examples of educational leaders hand wringing silencing, intentional silencing, victim blaming, shaming, denial, character attacks, and excluding the target from the classroom…
Let’s be realistic Bruce, research confirms the very high probability that Brenton was bullied about his sexual orientation and masculinity. It also confirms the high probability that he complained about that bullying to some adult at Riverbend well over 50 times. And both research and anecdotes like those linked to above would suggest the strong likelihood that your district is doing little to nothing about the daily violent anti-gay murmurings permeating the hallways of Riverbend Elementary.
HT: Andy Towle
p.s. Dr. Micheal Kimmel has published research on the anti-gay taunts experienced in 28 cases of school shootings. Kimmel found that the boys who took guns against classmates were: mercilessly and routinely teased and bullied and that their violence was retaliatory against the threats to manhood and that the specific content of the teasing and bullying is homophobia.
Like I said, Reality Bites.