ORANGE PARK, Fla. – (Disclaimer: Some may find the video depicted within this story to be graphic in nature. Viewer discretion advised.)
Video that reportedly shows an Orange Park High School freshman being bullied on school grounds has been circulating its way around social media.
The student, a 14-year-old, told News4Jax she is transgender and that she’s been violently bullied. She said the school is aware of the incident and is dealing with the other student.
A second video is said to show the same student being bullied at a location off school grounds.
Layne McClellan, an Orange Park High School alumni who graduated in 2016, sent the videos to News4Jax. She said she has two sisters who are in the same grade as the teenager who was bullied.
McClellan identifies as a transgender woman and seeing the video hit close to home.
“I tried hard not to cry. I was worried,” McClellan said. “This is that environment they have to be involved in, like, you know, schools have requirements that we don’t get a choice to go. You should feel safe. And that is someone who’s being bullied and harassed at school.”
McClellan was the president of the gay-straight alliance when she was in high school. She says the school no longer has that program.
“When I was there, we never had major fights. And it was never really hate crimes,” McClellan said.
McClellan said she called the school Tuesday to make sure something was being done.
“And the lady did seem to know immediately what I was talking about,” McClellan said.
The student in the video said the school is aware of the one video that happened on campus and is dealing with that student.
News4Jax spoke with the mother of the teen in the video. She said she believes the administration will do the right thing, and that it has helped her daughter in the past.
A statement from Clay County District Schools released Wednesday reads:
“Recently on different social media platforms an incident captured on video where a student at Orange Park High School was punched by another student. Clay County District Schools and the Police Department take reports of incidents which threaten the safety of our students and our schools very seriously. We are actively investigating this incident captured on video and examining all aspects of what took place prior, during and after the incident. Please understand we cannot comment of active pending cases nor can the school comment on what type of disciplinary actions that are taken upon student deemed to have violated Florida law or Clay County District School Student Code of Conduct.”
According to FBI data, hate incidents targeting transgender people were up from 186 offenses in 2019 to 232 offenses in 2020. It found that of the hate crimes reported in 2020, 20.5% of victims were targeted over sexual orientation.
There are national resources available to help people who have been bullied. Stopbullying.gov provides things you can do to keep yourself and others safe from bullying. Stompoutbullying.org offers a free help chat line for people to call.