The rest of the cheerleaders quit cheering their team to protest the homophobic chants made at the teenager.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of homophobia that some readers may find distressing
A 14-year-old boy and gay cheerleader had homophobic slurs hurled at him as he cheered for the football team during a pep rally. Football players at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara chanted the word 'fag' at the teenager and also called him 'gay' as he went about cheering their own team. The students of the school were horrified and registered their protest with the school. The boy's parents didn't want him to cheer at the game but he was unfazed and insisted on returning to cheer the team again. “Even after everything that happened, he went back and faced it,” the boy's father said, reported LGBTQ Nation. “He’s so courageous. He has a responsibility to his team and to the school. He’s out there to cheer the football team, and this is what they do.”
After the football players hurled slurs at him again, the other cheerleaders backed the teenager and refused to cheer or hold up banners for the football players. The 14-year-old's older sister, who was captain of the cheerleading squad the previous year, drove him home at halftime following the abuse. "They called him "gay" for cheerleading for THEIR team, and showing up every game to cheer them on," read a petition that has since been closed. "Despite the fact that the cheerleaders spend hours of their day cheering on various sports teams, these football members thought it appropriate to be cruel and harass a single cheerleader based on their biases and prejudice. The main purpose of this petition is to call the administration and football coaches to attention, so they can investigate this incident. This sickening incident requires consequences, so it never happens to someone again," the petition read. The petition had garnered more than 12,000 signatures before the school announced it would investigate the incident. The petition was closed.
“He just wanted to do the sports he likes,” said the boy's father, reported Mercury News. “He just doesn’t want to be treated differently.” The boy had taken to Twitter to address the incident. “I am a boy and I am on the cheer team. I understand that people might think that’s different but when it comes down to it nobody deserves to be talked about in a negative way at all. It doesn’t matter your sexual orientation, your gender, your religion, your race, or anything else. Everyone should be treated equally and it hurts my heart that people on the football team that are almost fully grown and are talking about me and my teammates and bashing us for no reason other than me being gay and a freshman and my friends sticking up for me," wrote the boy, reported Outsports.
The boy's father met with the administrators who initially tried to dismiss the allegation claiming the footballers may have called him "hey, hey, hey," instead of "gay, gay, gay." The father said it was evident to everyone that it wasn't the case, especially considering he was also called 'fag.' It was so obvious that the other cheerleaders also stopped cheering for the team. “This is far from a misunderstanding,” said the boy's father.
After press coverage centered around the petition, the school had announced that it was working with the Santa Clara Police Department to investigate the incident. “At Santa Clara Unified School District, we proactively work to create an environment that embraces diversity and we do not tolerate harassment or bullying of any kind,” said a district spokesperson. The city of Santa Clara closed the investigation and confirmed that none of the players would face criminal charges but added that the players have been disciplined by the school officials.
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