Skeleton In The Closet: Exposing Hate at SVHS

José Valdivia, Op/Ed Editor

In an email I sent to Principal Justin Mori last December, I wrote, “[this] is a threat to the safety of  our LGBTQ [community], and, if the school wants to live up to its message of creating a safe environment for all students, then something must be done.”

This email was sent in response to an incident that occured before a pride flag raising with LGBTQ Connection’s Youth Leadership Team (YLT): a confirmed three flyers were burned from the wall over the weekend, charred remnants can still be seen around Golton Hall.

Soon after the burning, the Gender Sexuality Awareness (GSA) club created a post on its Instagram account. In response, several ‘meme’ accounts commented hate like “gay n***a go read the bible” and “stfu gay a** let that s**t burn.” It is unknown if these accounts belong to SVHS students.

This is not the first incident involving LGBTQ students at SVHS. Earlier in the year, a message was sent to the GSA’s Remind account, reading, “f**k you f**got.”

One freshman, Cole Gorman, who is a member of the YLT with LGBTQ Connection, explains that “every morning [he] would walk into school, and this kid would call [him] using [his] dead-name,” which is a transgender individual’s old name. On top of that, Gorman “was added to a group chat with a bunch of kids, where they would say horrible things to [him].”

In light of all these incidents, Program Coordinator for LGBTQ Connection Eliseo Rivas commented that in our campus climate, “we inevitably confront people who don’t want us to feel proud for being who we are.”

Other schools have faced harassment as well. According to senior Dylan Ocampo at Buckingham Charter Magnet High School in Vacaville, their GSA faced “homophobic comments… during club rush” and “many transphobic comments on [their Instagram].”

This is not just an issue at SVHS: it is a contemporary issue being faced across the country by many minority groups. It is the product of a toxic political climate, which empowers hateful people to spread their hate. When a nation’s president is the leader of a bigoted crusade, minority groups are more targeted and feel more harassed.

It reveals a campus climate that is not safe for all students. Individuals like Gorman “just want Sonoma to be a place where [he] can feel safe, but right now [he doesn’t] think that’s possible.”

GSA and LGBTQ Connection will continue to work with Principal Mori, who claims that “it’s [the school’s] goal to be as inclusive as possible”—a hopeful message looking forward.