A teenager and her family are accusing a Catholic high school of homophobic abuse, including counseling sessions forced on the teen without her parents’ knowledge.
The accusations come from Magali Rodriguez, a former student at Bishop Amat Memorial High School outside Los Angeles. While attending the school, Rodriguez and her girlfriend attempted to keep a low profile, avoiding public displays of affection. But staff continually singled her out, she says, subjecting her to arbitrary discipline, separating her from her girlfriend, and threatening to our her to her parents.
The school did not respond to questions from Buzzfeed, which conducted an investigation into the accusations. Officials said that the student’s claims are not “entirely accurate.”
The abuse started during her freshman year, Rodriguez says. She and her girlfriend were called into disciplinary meetings and told there had been complaints about their relationship. The students were barred from contact each other during free time, and both were forced to attend sessions with the school psychologist. If she violated the school’s rules, Rodriguez alleges, officials said they would out her to her family.
For the next two years, Rodriguez was constantly monitored by school staff, she said. She recalls crying every day and experiencing intense anxiety. Teachers would berate the pair about being queer and separate them if they sat near each other at lunch.
Rodriguez’s grades suffered and she found it difficult to feel motivated to learn. Eventually, the stress became overwhelming and she wrote a coming-out letter to her parents.
Her parents, in turn, were furious at the way the school had treated their daughter. They transferred her to a more supportive environment. Rodriguez is now finishing her senior year at another high school, and says that she’s finally thriving.
She told Buzzfeed that she doesn’t miss Bishop Amat Memorial High School, and in fact is glad she won’t be getting a diploma from the once-prestigious institution.
"I wouldn’t be proud if I got a diploma from Bishop," she told Buzzfeed. "What they showed me about what they stand for and their true values isn't what they really live up to."