Students at Plano East Senior High School are taking a stand against cyberbullying after learning one of their gay classmates was recently targeted in a Snapchat post.
"It's 2018, people are free to be who they are. Just because you don't feel you don't agree with it doesn't mean you should have something to say against it, and make them feel bad about themselves," said Plano East junior Serena Ovalles.
A screen shot of the post circulated around the school, showing part of conversation between three students. It read:
"Can someone beat the gay out of him?"
"Can we pull some hate crimes"
"let's do it"
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The comments drew strong reactions from many students at the school, including the student council, which posted the following to its social media accounts:
"Plano East prides itself on being an extremely diverse and accepting school with students from all walks of life. The administration and student body cannot and will not tolerate this sort of treatment to other peers. We will ensure punishment is served."
A spokesperson for Plano ISD said parents of the involved students were notified about the post, as is now required by state law, and that Plano East administration was "taking appropriate action" in response. Because of student privacy laws, they could not go into further detail.
The district says it also provided staff members with information to share with students about the incident.
"We should be proud to be members of a school community that embraces a world of differences and celebrates diversity," Plano East Principal George King said in a statement.
The student council encouraged students to wear blue to school on Thursday to show their support for those affected by bullying, and many of them did.
Several flyers were then discovered posted at the school Friday morning, which used offensive words for gays followed by "will not have the last word, God Bless America, Yee Yee."
Senior Brooke Bishop is close friends with the person she believes was the target of the online threat.
"Generally, everyone is being really, really supportive, and there's so many hugs happening in the hallway and smiles and random acts of kindness that I think is really good right now, is what we need," Bishop said.
On Tuesday night, the Plano ISD School Board will hear about an update to the district's bullying policy so that it includes cyberbullying. That was scheduled well before the incident at Plano East occurred.