Student speaks about alleged discrimination
POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A high school student and her mother are speaking out after the female student and her girlfriend were reprimanded for holding hands at school.
The incident occurred at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, a few weeks ago. "We were holding hands, and our principal came behind us on the little [golf] cart, and he pulled our hands away and said, 'There's no holding hands around here,'" the student said.
According to the 17-year-old, she frequently sees male and female students holding hands at her school, but she has never seen anyone separate these students.
The story was first reported in the South Florida Times. The high school junior and her friend were threatened with suspension. According to the teen, she was enraged by the ordeal, so she sent e-mails to Broward County School Board members.
North Area Superintendent Sharon Airaghi sent the student the following response: "The principal, within the guidelines of district's policies, has jurisdiction to create in-house measures that impact the entire school. It is my understanding that the holding of hands on campus is not an acceptable practice at Blanche Ely High School. The practice is applicable to all students."
The student's mother believes the incident occurred because her daughter is gay. "I wish I could have gone to the school with a camera to record all the children, boys and girls, who walk around, holding hands and hugging each other with their arms around them," she said. "I think it's just strictly because of the fact of her preference, and I think he should not discriminate against her. He never had any problems with her before."
According to the 17-year-old, the principal called the other student's parents. "She didn't know what to do because he basically outed her," she said.
The teen's mother said she will continue to support her daughter. "Sometimes, it's kind of hard to accept certain things. Even for me, it's been very hard, but she is my daughter. She's not going to feel left out," the teen's mother said.
On Tuesday, the issue was brought up during a Broward County School Board meeting. "I'm more concerned with the fact that the principal took it upon himself to call both of the girls' parents: one who knew the girl was a lesbian, the other who did not," said Michael Rajmer of the School Diversity Committee. "The principal willfully and recklessly endangered that girl's life, should she have committed suicide."
Broward County Schools Superintendent Jim Notter said an investigation is underway. "We have staff that is looking into it from an investigative standpoint, so that we have all the data, and we can make an appropriate recommendation," he said.
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