Students at Californian Catholic school stage walkout over mistreatment of lesbian classmate

The staff at the school allegedly threatened that they would out the student to her parents if she did not comply with their commands.

Catholic school

Two hundred high school students staged a walkout in support of their classmate after it emerged that she was mistreated by staff at the Catholic school due to her sexuality. The Californian student, Magali Rodriguez, says that she is one of the two openly LGBT+ students at her school, Bishop Amat Memorial High School, and the other is her girlfriend.

Last week, Buzzfeed News published an article about Magali Rodriguez, who attended Bishop Amat Memorial High School in Upland, California for three years. Rodriguez explained that when she was in the ninth grade, the equivalent to 3rd year in Ireland, she and her girlfriend at the time were taken to the dean’s office and told that they were not allowed to be together. They were told that they were not allowed to pursue their relationship on school grounds which included sitting together at lunch or even being near each other on their breaks. 

As well as the school having no official policy on same-gender relationships, it was also reported that straight couples at the school often engaged in public displays of affection with no repercussions. These rules were targeted explicitly at Rodriguez and her girlfriend.

Both girls were forced to attend regular disciplinary meetings with the dean and mandatory counselling with the school’s psychologist. If she didn’t comply? Rodriguez said that staff at the school threatened to out her to her parents if she refused to follow these demands. The whole ordeal was very traumatising and caused Rodriguez to experience “extreme anxiety”. 

This went on for two years before Rodriguez decided to come out to her parents herself. As soon as they heard of the shocking treatment her daughter was receiving at the Catholic school, they immediately transferred her to a different high school. 

Much like her parents, when Rodriguez’ classmates found out how staff at their school had treated her, they staged a mass walkout as a show of support. Many students were shocked that this had happened in their school, one student saying; “Once I started to read the article, I was in full shock. I decided to walk out to stand up for her”, while another said they “didn’t agree with what the administration did with the situation”.

Following the outpourings of support for Rodriguez and her fellow students who stood up for her and the subsequent backlash against the Catholic school, Bishop Amat Memorial released a statement on their official Twitter account.

The statement claims that the school “is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students, irrespective of their sexual orientation” and allows any students in relationships to “socialise appropriately” on campus, however, the case of Magali Rodriguez shows a clear disregard for this sentiment of inclusivity.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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