A group of Florida high school students were recently caught on video stomping on LGBTQ Pride flags, waving makeshift Confederate flags and reportedly harassing classmates involved in a Gay Straight Alliance club.
School officials quickly launched an investigation after a video of the incident at Bartram Trails High School emerged online last week. The cell phone footage was recorded outside on the school grounds and shows a group of male students shouting a homophobic slur, as well as a series of other homophobic and transphobic statements directed at LGBTQ classmates.
The footage shows the group stomping on an LGBTQ Pride flag, while a Confederate flag that appears to have been drawn on a piece of poster board is also waved as a student shouts slurs. Some of the group’s vitriol was apparently reserved for transgender classmates, with the footage showing students shouting “there’s only two genders, f****t” and “y’all have a mental illness.”
The students that were targeted during the incident were members of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance club, according to The St. Augustine Record. School district officials are reportedly working with the youth resource deputy division of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the incident. The students who allegedly took part in the hateful incident could face disciplinary measures from the school, as well as potential criminal charges.
“I think it’s really upsetting,” Nancy Tray, a parent of a student at the high school, told the paper on Monday. “I think anyone who sees something like this going on at their child’s school is going to be concerned. Everyone wants their child to be part of a school community that has acceptance and respect, and I don’t think that this video demonstrates that.”
St. Johns County School District spokeswoman Christina Langston said that the behavior of the students was “not acceptable and not indicative of the culture and students” at the high school. Langston told the Jacksonville-based news station WJXT that the students involved “will receive consequences which align with our student code of conduct, Levels III and IV to be precise.”
Consequences for level III and IV violations, which are the most in the school district’s code of conduct, include possible suspensions, expulsion, placement into an alternative school and referrals to mental health services. Students who commit the violations are also “subject to criminal proceedings.”
Newsweek reached out to St. Johns County School District for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
If criminal charges are filed, it would not be the only recent incident involving high school students charged over an anti-LGBTQ incident. A Georgia high school student was charged earlier this month with disorderly conduct, simple battery and disruption of a public facility after being caught on video attacking a student who was wearing a Pride flag in the school cafeteria.