Destin Holmes has been a victim of some of the worst anti-gay bullying imaginable that has not resorted to physical violence. The amount of hatred expressed by her peers and teachers is astounding, and Holmes is doing everything she can to make sure it never happens to her or anyone else again.
Holmes is a lesbian, and within days of starting at Magnolia Junior High School in Mississippi, teachers were already using male pronouns to refer to her instead of female pronouns. Students called her "it," "queer," "freak," "alien," "dyke," and "he-she." In one particularly cruel incident, a teacher who split the class up into boys and girls for a trivia game told Holmes to sit alone in the middle.
"She told me since she didn't know what I was, I should be on a team of my own," said Holmes.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has taken Holmes' case and last week leveled bullying allegations with the Moss Point School District. At a press conference held at the school, SPLC attorneys and officials explained that their student-requested investigation revealed a pervasive anti-gay culture within the district to which both students and teachers contributed.
"I loved being with friends and going to school before I was being bullied," Holmes said at the conference. She ended up leaving the school after only one semester because the bullying was so bad.
Sam Wolfe, a SPLC attorney, added, "Students face enough obstacles in school without also enduring violence and abuse for simply being different. They are entitled by law to attend school in an environment where they are not singled out and tormented because of their sexual orientation or gender nonconformity."
The SPLC sent a letter to the Moss Point superintendent and Magnolia principal demanding that the environment change immediately, highlighting the victim-blaming and laws broken by all offenders.
"Destin wants to go back to school in Moss Point, but she cannot return to an environment where she is targeted because of her sexual orientation and gender expression," it states. "The District has a responsibility to ensure that Destin and students like her have an opportunity to learn in a respectful environment ... An appropriate response is not merely to address individual instances of discrimination as they occur, but rather to implement a plan to comprehensively address the hostile environment."
Wolfe warned the district that if it does not comply and create a plan to address the issue, then it will face a federal lawsuit.
In the below video released by the SPLC, Holmes discusses her feelings about being bullied:
There is absolutely no reason to harass and alienate someone for their sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other part of one that makes one different. What happened to Destin Holmes is happening every day to children around the world, and it must end.