Students at Bishop Amat Memorial High School outside Los Angeles staged a walkout in support of a lesbian student after school officials allegedly threatened to out her to her parent.
High school senior Magali Rodriguez attended Bishop Amat Memorial High School for three years during which time she experienced homophobic harassment from school officials for having a girlfriend.
According to Buzzfeed, although Rodriguez and her girlfriend attempted to avoid attention and public displays of affection, she was continually singled out by staff, forced into disciplinary meetings and counseling, seperated from her girlfriend, and was threatened to be outed if she didn’t abide by the rules. After making the decision to come out to her parents, who found the school’s behavior appalling, Rodriguez was transferred to a new school.
Following the Buzzfeed report which was released on Thursday, students at the Catholic high school organized a walkout in support of her Friday. Many students at the school didn’t know Rodriguez had been harassed by school officials and were shocked to find out how she was mistreated.
"I never would’ve imagined Amat to be an environment like this," said one student, who didn’t want to be named. "Once I started to read about the article I was in full shock. I decided to walk out to stand up for her."
The unnamed student said the walkout was staged during their seventh period until the end of the day and lasted about an hour and a half.
"I feel as if the principal knew they messed up. Before the bell rang for lunch he made an announcement saying he was aware of the news article," the student said, telling Buzzfeed that the school offered “counseling services” in the library “for any students who had questions.”
An estimated 200 students participated in the walkout. A second student who declined to be named said teachers were supervising the protest, but didn't try to shut it down.
"I decided to walk out because I wanted to take a stand," the student said. "I didn’t agree with what the administration did with the situation and I feel like it was a good idea for the student body to stand as one to show our support for Magali."
Students who knew Rodriguez told Buzzfeed she was a “kind and positive” person.
“When I got to the school last year as a transfer I really had no friends but once I met her she started to help me make friends," a Bishop Amat sophomore under the pseudonym ‘D.G.’ told the outlet of Rodriguez. "She was one of my best friends that I can call at any time, so when I heard about all of this I texted her and once she told me that it was true then I had to do something."
Following Buzzfeed’s original report the school tweeted a statement denying it was intolerant of LGBTQ+ students.
“Our school is not in a position to share details specific to the story as it has been reported; however it is vitally important to emphasize that the information presented and the comments that have been posted in response to the story, do not reflect the daily efforts made by the members of our school community to support those students we have been entrusted to educate,” the letter which was signed by the school’s president and principal, said. “”Students who are involved in a relationship may socialize appropriately on campus; however, engaging in excessive displays of affection is not permitted by any student.”