Football players at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California allegedly shouted homophobic insults at a 14-year-old male cheerleader at an October 18 game. Some football players chanted homophobic slurs during the game and called him “gay” for being part of the cheerleading squad.
The father of the child, who isn’t being publicly identified, told the Mercury News that his son was also physically threatened, along with another female cheerleader.
“Even after everything that happened, he went back [to the field] and faced it,” he said. “He’s so courageous. He has a responsibility to his team and to the school. He’s out there to cheer the football team and this is what they do.”
The student has also allegedly been subjected to other forms of discrimination over the past month and faced more insults during halftime.
Now supporters are rallying for action from school administrators via a Change.org petition that has amassed more than 1,000 signatures as of Monday evening. They call the repeated mistreatment the freshman allegedly experienced “cruel.”
“This sickening incident requires consequences,” the petition states, “so it never happens to someone again.”
While reports do not specify whether or not the male cheerleader identifies as LGBTQ+, the Santa Clara Unified School District’s policy says all on-campus programs and activities should be free of discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression — or any negative biases resulting from association with the LGBTQ+ community.
Spokesperson Jennifer Dericco says the school district is aware of the incident and that its goal is to make sure there’s a fair, independent investigation for all parties involved. In a statement to Out, Dericco claims the district has requested the support of the Santa Clara Police Department.
But even as people across the country come out in support of the student, his father says the family fears for his safety. “He just wanted to do the sports he likes,” the claims. “He just doesn’t want to be treated differently.”