An Indiana high school student was left with a broken nose in what he says was a homophobic locker room attack, captured by numerous other students on video.
The incident occurred earlier this week at Alexandria Monroe High School. According to the victim, whose name has not been released, another student began pushing him in the locker room after gym class. That escalated into full-on punches, while two other students held the victim in place.
Other students captured footage of the violence, and clips immediately circulated through the school's community, eventually reaching the victim's mother.
The victim is certain the attack was homophobic, as his assailants have abused him in the past for being gay.
For its part, the school's response has been tepid. A spokesperson for the school district reported that they were "troubled," and referred to the incident, which appeared to be a one-sided attack, as a "fight." Officials from both the school and local police say that it's too early to confirm whether the attack was a hate crime.
In an interview with a local paper, principal Tom Johns claimed that the school provides a welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQ+ students, but suggested that parents bore some responsibility. "We try to do everything we can to teach tolerance and acceptance," he said. "At the end of the day, the parents have the responsibility to teach open-mindedness and acceptance."
But that contradicts accounts from former students on Twitter.
"I have experienced first hand how little this school regards LGBT students' safety," wrote one. "I have seen complaints of harassment completely ignored by this administration."
"I personally know that nothing gets done when a queer kid is getting bullied. Nothing gets done when anyone is being bullied," wrote another, recalling that the school's new GSA was told that they couldn't hang posters that "made it too obvious" what the club was about.
Indiana schools are not safe for LGBTQ+ students, according to GLSEN's 2017 National School Climate Survey. A 2017 survey said 92% of students reported hearing "gay" used as a slur. Only 27% said that reporting harassment to school staff resulted in action. What's more, 38% of Indiana students reported that they were disciplined for same-sex displays of affection that heterosexual students faced no consequences for. Only 7% reported that their school had a complete nondiscrimination policy.
Indiana school officials have exacerbated the bullying, according to state officials, by concealing incidents. More than half of the state's schools claim that they had no incidents of bullying for the entire 2016 to 2017 school year. That comes after former Governor Mike Pence, now Vice President, signed a bill requiring uniform anti-bullying policies -- a requirement that schools apparently feel comfortable ignoring. Democratic Representative Greg Porter has proposed improvements to the policy.
According to the parents of the victim at Alexandria Monroe, two of the students responsible for the violence have been expelled, though the school has yet to comment.
The victim plans to return to school following the attack. There's still no confirmation from the school on what punishment will be doled out to the attackers, to teachers who allowed the violence to occur, or to administrators who failed to prevent it.