The school year at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas, began last fall with the administration scraping off rainbow stickers that had been posted on campus, prompting hundreds of students to walk out in protest. Seven months later, LGBTQ students say things have deteriorated further.
One faculty sponsor of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance is facing having her contract terminated, another is preparing to resign, and a third has been removed from the classroom. The alliance’s weekly meetings became monthly, and attendance dropped from about 40 students to fewer than 10. The student newspaper has functionally shut down. Two teachers said that the school’s principal asked teachers to take down gay pride flags in their classrooms and offices.
Several students said that either they or their classmates have been called homophobic slurs and bullied, and school staff members have failed to intervene. Some said they’re discouraged by the Irving Independent School District’s response to the concerns they’ve raised through the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and school board meetings, and they feel less safe at school than they did a year ago. Two students said human resources officers with the district questioned them about their involvement with the GSA.
“It feels like a target was put on us,” said Adaiah Knight, a junior who identifies as gender-fluid and who said students have harassed them. (Knight uses they/them pronouns.)
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