LGBTQ students fearful, hurt after hateful message scribbled on bathroom wall

High school hate speech incident fuels fear

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It was a typical day for students at Grant High School last week, until a hateful message appeared on the wall in one of the school's gender-neutral bathrooms.

The message included a gay slur, and said gay people would “burn in hell.” It even included a shooting threat.

“Just really hateful things like death threats,” said Callie Quinn-Ward, a Grant High School junior who described what was written on the bathroom wall. “I identify as queer. I know for me seeing that on the wall, it’s a death threat."

The hate speech has since been painted over. But students who don’t feel comfortable using the women’s or men’s restrooms and belong to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community, can't shake the disappointment and fear.

“Going in there and seeing this hateful graffiti in the bathroom, it definitely hurt,” said Rebekah Goshorn, a senior at Grant High School.

“Queer people aren't different than straight people,” said Hazel Sanger, a junior. “It's just who you are and it's disheartening and I just don't understand."

Sanger and other students said they regularly hear slurs in the hallways but actually seeing the words written on the wall hit home.

“It's really hard to go to class and feel safe in a school when the queer community is getting death threats and nothing is being done about it,” said Quinn-Ward.

But a spokesperson with Portland Public Schools said something is being done.

“They have covered up the graffiti, are patrolling these areas more, investigating as best they can, and are meeting with any students there at GHS who may feel unsafe,” said Jon Coney with Portland Public Schools.

Students believe the solution begins with a conversation. They want to tell whoever wrote this hateful message to think about how it's making people feel.

“Try to get to know somebody who's gay. Open a dialogue and realize like we're all just people so why can't we all just get along,” said Goshorn.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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