ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A troubling series of videos posted to social media this week appears to show a group of students hurling hate speech at other students at a St. Johns County high school.
Students can be heard using homophobic slurs in the videos, which have been edited by News4Jax to shield the identities of students.
Parents told News4Jax it happened Friday at Bartram Trail High School and demanded the school address what happened.
“Two genders, f****t! There are two genders, f****t!” students can be heard yelling.
Cell phone footage of the incident was sent to News4Jax after it circulated on Snapchat and other social media sites.
Witnesses said a group of boys at Bartram Trail High School gathered Friday to rally against the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club.
A parent of a student there, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid backlash, called the videos chilling and said she also saw students stomping on a rainbow flag, a symbol of LGBTQ pride.
“It was shocking. It was scary,” the parent said Sunday. “It made me wonder what could possibly happen at this school to put students in danger, and it was kind of akin to videos you would see in the early 1960s during the civil rights movement.”
Nancy Tray also has a student at Bartram Trail and said watching the video made her emotional.
“It was shocking and horrifying,” Tray said. “And I just, it was very emotional. It made me extremely sad. It makes you question as a parent your life choices if this is the right school for your kid.”
None of the parents reported any violence or any injuries but did say they turned the videos over to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
The agency told one of the parents that the matter was being referred to a sergeant in the youth resources division.
“I was very scared to see that kind of hate,” one parent said. “To me, that’s only how this could be described, as a hate crime happening on the campus where my child is at school.”
“I think it’s impossible to learn in an environment where, at a very minimum, you don’t feel safe. Our students need to feel safe in order to get the education that they need,” Tray said. “I think that we need to have no tolerance for this sort of behavior.”
A spokesperson for the St. Johns County School District told News4Jax it is looking into the matter.
The district does have an existing policy on bullying, which can be viewed here.