Sara Ramirez
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High School Students Walk Out in Support of Bullied Gay Classmate

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Hundreds of students in Missouri walked out of class on Monday in support of an out gay senior who they claim has been subjected to anti-LGBTQ+ abuse by bullies at their school, including one who allegedly broke the nose of a student who stood up to the harassment.

Students at Lee’s Summit High School carried signs in support of senior Danny Lillis and his friend Malani Hohlbaugh. According to a report from KDAF, parents and students said they had complained repeatedly to various school authorities about anti-LGBTQ+ students harassing Lillis, who is gay and expresses himself by wearing makeup. Things came to a head last Wednesday when a fight broke out between the alleged bullies and Hohlbaugh.

“My goal was to just get around him, but he noticed I was walking by him,” Hohlbaugh told KDAF. “So, he turned into me at the same time I was walking by him. So, it turned into me shoving him.”

“He shoved her back. She then shoved him. Then, he punched her,” friend Carly Vento added. “That’s when I jumped on him and pulled him to the ground to where he wouldn’t hit her again.”

The students said the alleged bullies routinely picked on Lillis and his friends with verbal abuse and worse.

“Mustard got thrown at my friend’s hair that was aimed at my table because of this,” Lillis recalled.

Lillis said he and others have been complaining about the abuse but that school authorities did nothing. His mother, Missy Lillis, said she met “weeks ago” with the school’s vice principal to create a safety plan and was told that extra staff would be in the lunchroom to stop the abuse.

According to Hohlbaugh, however, no extra staff was on hand last week to protect Lillis and his friends.

“While I’m walking away from it with blood dripping down, and no teacher or anyone was there to help other than the students,” Hohlbaugh said.

Melanie Davies, Hohlbaugh’s mother, said the school didn’t even call to notify her of the incident due to their policy of only making immediate calls in case of a medical emergency.

“If my child was knocked to the ground by a male student and her nose is bleeding and her lip is fat – that is a medical emergency,” Davies said.

It was unclear the number of students taking part in the protest, but another 2,500 people signed a petition supporting Lillis. No information was released on the identities of the suspended students.

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District released a statement saying all students need to “feel safe and welcome” on campus and that discrimination and harassment are specifically prohibited.

“Although laws protecting students’ privacy prevents us from discussing the specifics of this incident, we can share that school and district administrators are conducting an investigation and taking action to ensure the safety of all students and staff. District administrators will follow Board of Education policies and procedures as we determine next steps,” the statement continued. “In LSR7, it is a top priority to endure an inclusive culture where out students, staff members and families are valued and treated with dignity.

RELATED | Student Facing Charges After Ripping Pride Flag Away From Classmate

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