A Catholic high school in the Los Angeles area allegedly threatened to out a lesbian student to her parents, so 200 students walked out in protest on Friday.
Student Magali Rodriguez attended Bishop Amat Memorial High School for three years. She had a relationship with a fellow female student during that time, which is not against written school rules. But starting in her freshman year, Rodriguez says, she experienced outright homophobic abuse from school officials.
Rodriguez tells Buzzfeed News that she and her girlfriend were called into disciplinary meetings, forced to attend counseling sessions with the school psychologist, and barred from contacting each other during their free time. They couldn’t even sit next to each other at lunch.
For the next two years, school officials monitored them constantly. Teachers also berated her and her girlfriend for being queer; one administrator even said they were going to hell, Rodriguez says. If she didn’t follow the school’s demands, they threatened to out her to her parents, who didn’t know she was gay at the time.
The stress of the homophobia took a major toll on Rodriguez. Her grades suffered, and she experienced crying spells and intense anxiety.
Finally, the teen revealed the entire story to her parents. She came out to them in a letter and told them all about her experiences at school. In response, they pulled her from Bishop Amat and sent her to a more supportive environment.
Though Rodriguez is now safe, she says she doesn’t want anyone else at the school to go through the same thing. Neither, apparently, do her fellow students. After reading about Rodriguez’s story, they decided to stand in solidarity with her by staging a walkout on Friday.
“I decided to walk out because I wanted to take a stand,” an anonymous student told Buzzfeed News. “I didn’t agree with what the administration did with the situation and I feel like it was a good idea for the student body to stand as one to show our support for Magali.”
“I never would’ve imagined Amat to be an environment like this,” another anonymous student added. “Once I started to read about the article I was in full shock. I decided to walk out to stand up for her.”
About 200 students participated in the demonstration.