Supporters of a male cheerleader pelted with homophobic insults at recent high school football game are giving him a boost, after the gay freshman student faced alleged physical threats and bullying for participating in the sport. (And yes, cheerleading is a sport.)
As Out previously noted, football players at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California taunted the 14-year-old and shouted anti-gay slurs during a school pep rally last Friday. The student, whose name has not been released to media, didn't attend school yesterday because his father wasn't sure whether officials would protect him against additional threats.
But as the controversy drew nationwide attention, a 20-year-old woman -- who claims to be the student's older sister -- tweeted a photo of a cake decorated with rainbow balloons. A message spelled out in frosting reads: "We love that you are gay!"
"Tonight we gonna celebrate him," she tweeted Sunday.
During last Friday's game, the cheerleading squad also showed up to support their teammate by participating in a small act of protest. They refused to hold up banners used to usher the football team onto the field at the start of the game.
Within the past four days, people from around the country have also shown their love and affirmation by signing onto a Change.org petition urging school administrators to take action to prevent future anti-LGBTQ+ harassment. "This sickening incident requires consequences," the petition states, "so it never happens to someone again."
Jane Martin-Gilmore, one of the commenters on the Change.org petition, says that she finds the situation to be "morally reprehensible and absolutely unacceptable." She claims to be a "teacher," "parent in the district," and "former high school cheerleading coach" whose children attend Wilcox High School. Her husband, meanwhile, leads athletics at nearby Cupertino High School.
"If this toxic and dangerous behavior is not taken care of in a transparent and swift manner, I will seriously reconsider sending my own children to Wilcox," she adds.
It remains to be seen if the district and the school will do what it takes to create an environment where all students feel safe. According to the teen's father, a football player at Wilcox High School was threatened by his teammates after sharing screenshots with the student's family corroborating the fact that the homophobic bullying took place.