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Transgender student says he was targeted by students using hate speech at St. Johns County school

After videos surfaced of a group of high school students slinging anti-gay slurs at fellow students at Bartram Trail High School
After videos surfaced of a group of high school students slinging anti-gay slurs at fellow students at Bartram Trail High School

St. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – After videos surfaced of a group of high school students slinging anti-gay slurs at fellow students at Bartram Trail High School, a St. Johns County School District spokesperson told News4Jax on Monday that the school is taking action.

“BTHS actively began investigating this situation on Friday and continues to do so today,” SJCSD spokeswoman Christina Langston said. “All those involved will receive consequences which align with our student code of conduct, Levels III and IV to be precise.”

MORE | Video shows St. Johns County students yelling anti-gay slurs at classmates

The student who filmed the videos did not want to be identified, other than to share that he’s a transgender student and was one of the targets of the group’s hate speech.

He told News4Jax it all started after the last bell when the group of male students began hoisting Confederate flag symbols and shouting anti-gay slurs at members of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club.

Parents are demanding Bartram Trail High School address what happened after videos posted to social media show a group of students hurling hate speech and homophobic slurs at other students.
Parents are demanding Bartram Trail High School address what happened after videos posted to social media show a group of students hurling hate speech and homophobic slurs at other students.

“And we pulled out our phones and then right then they were starting to scream at them,” the student said. “But it looks like that they were harassing the group of LGBT kids before we got there, because of the videos that they took.”

The student’s mother, like others News4Jax spoke with, are calling on the school to take action.

“So it was very concerning for me. And what I’d like to see happen is, I’d like to see that these boys are punished for certain,” the parent said.

Langston said the district is working with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office youth resource deputy to conduct the investigation into Friday’s incident.

“This behavior is not acceptable and is not indicative of the culture and students at BTHS,” Langston said. “It is very disappointing that these students handled themselves in this way.”

The student who shot the video said he’s no stranger to insults in the hallways but the problem only appears to be worsening.

“After seeing what happened on friday, I, it makes me feel a lot less safe than I already did feel at school,” the student said. “Some of my friends have it worse than that. So it makes me feel really worried for my friends and myself.”

The district said this investigation started on Friday but that it’s still ongoing.

Students said the school made an announcement Monday morning about Friday’s incident saying hate speech wouldn’t be tolerated.

The definition of the student violations are defined in the district’s code of conduct:

Level III infractions are major acts of misconduct which the School Board has determined constitute a serious breach of conduct. They include repeated misconduct acts from Level II, serious disruptions of school order and threats to the health, safety and property of others. A student who commits a Level III offense may also be subject to criminal proceedings.

Level IV acts of misconduct are the most serious. All infractions must be reported to the Office of School Services. Sanctions will include suspension and may include placement in an alternative school and/or expulsion and may be subject to referral to mental health services pursuant to Florida Statute 1012.584(4). A student who commits a Level IV offense may also be subject to criminal proceedings.

St. Johns County School District Student Code of Conduct

About the Author:

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.