Tristen Torrez, a 14 year-old Ohio student at Defiance Middle School, was attacked after he wore a Pride flag to school to signify his official coming out and to celebrate Pride month. “This was my official way of saying I was gay and not trying to hide it,” Torrez said.
With the Pride flag tied around his shoulders, Tristen was recorded being attacked by fellow students, who he says he didn’t know. The video, which was shared by Tristen to local news station WTOL11, shows the horrible incident in which the attacker grabs the flag and pulls Tristen down the bleachers of the football pitch (a trigger warning for anyone who watches the news report).
When talking about the attack to WTOL11, Tristan said he didn’t hear the other student come up behind him: “Then he pulls me down, which I don’t even remember happening and then he poured water on me, pulled up, pulled down, started choking me.” The end of the video shows several students surrounding Tristan, punching and choking him.
After the incident Torrez was told that it was a dare: “Someone told me it was because I said a racial slur, which was completely false. [Others] said it was because I’m gay and just to do it anyway.”
This is not the first time that the Ohio student has been picked on by others but Tristen wanted to celebrate Pride. “I was wearing it to state a message. And state just because one person is who they are, proud of who they are, doesn’t mean others shouldn’t be proud of who they are.”
Tristan’s mom, Brianne, was heartbroken by the attack. She said that Tristan is so used to being bullied that it doesn’t bother him anymore. She was awoken by Tristan after he came home from school and told her that “he was roughened up today.” It is especially heartbreaking for Brianne “when [she] can’t always be there to protect him.”
In a statement to WTOL11, the superintendent of Defiance Middle School, Bob Morton, said he and the schools in the district take situations like this seriously. He also said: “We are aware of this situation and it was dealt with swiftly with school administration and local law enforcement.”
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