Nikolas Lopez, a senior from Liberty High School, is no stranger to facing discrimination and harassment simply for celebrating the LGBTQ community. 

"I've faced discrimination at school for bringing a Pride flag to school on National Coming Out Day," he said to the Kern High School District Board of Trustees Tuesday night. "I had hateful posts spread about me on social media with my picture."

Though one problem was tackled, a new one arose: the fact that that type of treatment was allowed to happen.

"It's heartbreaking that proactive measures were not established to prevent this from happening," he added.

Following an alleged incident of harassment that took place after Frontier High School's Gay Straight Alliance meeting last week, Lopez and several of his friends from the district have seen and heard enough. They're now calling for a districtwide student-led committee that will have direct and proactive action when it comes to discrimination, harassment and intolerance surrounding LGBTQ and other minority students.

According to a Facebook post on a Frontier High School parent page, a parent wrote Gay Straight Alliance members were allegedly met with students holding Make America Great Again flags and "straight kids holding hands yelling 'this is what's right.'"

"We're all a part of a larger organization that's known as Bakersfield Young Democrats ... and we have this group chat where we all talk to each other and one of the Frontier students had let us know about this," said Martin Higuera, a junior at Centennial High School. "It had really blown up on social media as well. Everybody was really appalled by this in our group."

But, Higuera added, he and his friends were not surprised it happened.

"We're in a very conservative community that doesn't really value inclusiveness. Often times the LGBTQ+ students and other minorities do not feel represented or understood."

A statement sent by KHSD last week stated, "The Kern High School District and Frontier High School recognize that students have varying viewpoints and opinions. One of the goals of the educational process is to teach students how to communicate respectfully with each other. The reported incident that occurred on (Aug. 28) at Frontier High School is currently being investigated. Once the investigation is complete, appropriate follow-up measures will be taken."

Two trustees said action was taken and eight students were suspended for several days, but the district could not comment on or confirm the suspensions due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

During the board's meeting Tuesday, students throughout the district approached trustees one by one to share their personal or friends' experiences with harassment over sexual orientation. 

"People at my school literally laugh at my peers behind their backs on social media and right in front of their faces for things they can't control," said Gina Yum, a junior at Liberty High School. "I have personally comforted many people suffering through depression and anxiety suffering from this form of harassment."

Lopez shared statistics from the 2017-2018 California Healthy Kids survey and noted that 34 percent of ninth grade respondents disagree or strongly disagree that school is a safe space for LGBTQ students and 71 percent hear LGBTQ slurs at school.

In hopes of being more proactive and having more inclusive environments on school campuses, the students want to create a student-led committee that would have representatives from each district school engaging in direct communication. They would also like to have allies and LGBTQ experts who can help formulate policies part of the committee.

"We want to counteract all of these problems before they're able to happen so that we understand all the different environments that are happening at the different high schools," Yum said.

They also would like more transparency when it comes to sensitivity trainings done throughout the district. 

The students noted Frontier's Gay Straight Alliance members fear the harassment will happen again at a future meeting, but they stand with the idea of creating a districtwide committee.

Trustee Janice Graves said she is all for having students form this committee, but she's not sure if all discrimination will be erased because of it.

"They want these remarks to not come up, and that's just not going to happen," Graves said. "People are mean and cruel, and we need to make sure these students and all students know what respect is and know how to treat people right."

"I don't know how to stop it, but it's a good first step," she added referring to the committee.

Overall, the students recognize and appreciate that the district has taken action, but it shouldn't always be reactive. 

"We don't want our school district just reacting to the problems. We want them to have solutions to prevent these problems from happening in the first place," Higuera said.

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.

(37) comments

scottybob

When you make a demonstration for something that you know is strongly opposed by someone else, you have to accept their views and counter demonstration, or just shut up.

Copper

First of all Scottbob it wasn’t a demonstration . It was a student meeting where a bunch of idiot losers in Maga hats surrounded and harassed other students


Copper

Also this means you support Antifa then as well

Moardeeb

Oh snap.

Moardeeb

Yeah! Don't come out on "National Coming Out Day." Git back in the closet where you belong! This is Bakersfield!

shreded7

The proposed student-led committee will be tackling issues of harassment and intolerance. Incidents cited include hateful internet posts, teasing. Freedom of speech isn't freedom to be a jerk and hurt someone.

Churchillis1

Am I missing something from this story? So, some kids line up to exercise their free speech rights as part of a Gay Straight Alliance. Other kids expressed their free speech rights by waving a MAGA flag and chanting "this is what's right."



Sounds like exactly how free societies operate. If anything, I find offensive any attempt to curtail free speech by the school or parents, or district...etc. who want to pretend that only speech we find correct and inoffensive is allowed.

Moardeeb

It's very simple. Either love thy neighbor or hate thy neighbor for being different than you. Those 2 messages are not equal. Looks like you choose hate. Live your sad life.

Churchillis1

It’s very simple. Free speech is right there in the first amendment. This isn’t really complicated stuff. Looks like you think you can choose the kind of speech that should be allowed. Talk about a sad life....


Copper

Umm yes there are laws that control speech , educate yourself and learn something , here’s an example , we cannot yell fire in a movie theater.

Copper

Learn the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech used to bully and intimidate others.

Churchillis1

Odd. It feels a lot like you are telling me "this is what's right."

Hmmm.....

Moardeeb

If you think shaming people is what's right, own it.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Copper- even "hate speech" is protected speech under 1A. You can't incite violence with it, but short of that- even if you disagree vehemently with what someone is saying and/or printing, it is still protected...

Moardeeb

Exactly

7nickfish

Why do we even allow these issues and subjects at school. Sex of any sort should not be in our school systems. There is more reasons to have kids go to private schools so this is not thrown in their faces every day-it is not right.

Copper

Sex should be taught in school. Sexuality and safe sex , and we should dispense free condoms in the bathrooms as well. Pull your head out , young people have sex, most parents are in denial and do not teach their children about safe sex. Why do you think Kern County has one of the highest STD rates among high schoolers. BTW if you think the teens at Garces aren’t having sex because they go to a private school. You’re a special kinda of..


Gene Pool Chlorinator

Kern County has more than double the amount of adolescent births compared to the state average- how's that talk about safe sex and free condoms working for ya???

REMUDA

AGAIN . . . This discussion is fundamentally about "Free Speech" (ON AND OFF CAMPUS) . . . an undisclosed "suspension" resulting from undefined "harassment over sexual orientation" (what form? >> physical contact or verbal/oral) . . . and Kern High School District (Board) published policy regarding ON/OFF CAMPUS 'demonstrations' and/or expressions of First Amendment Rights. The KHSD Board investigation hopefully will clarify all of this to the public/media in a reasonable time and fashion. This is significant as those same "Free Speech" rights are paramount to the COMMENTS BELOW herein to the 'CAUSE(S)represented in the article, including specific interests on BOTH SIDES of "The Question" . . . whatever 'THEY' may be(?)--my earlier 'Selective Service System' example defining "M/F"

"Modern Supreme Court decisions have made it clear that the

right to free speech and expression can sometimes be

subordinated to achieve legitimate educational goals. (See

discussions of Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier and

Bethel School District v. Fraser.) A school is not comparable

to a public park where anyone can stand on a soapbox or a

bulletin board on which anyone can post a notice. While

students and teachers do not “shed their constitutional

rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse

gate” (Tinker v. Des Moines), speech is not quite as free

inside educational institutions as outside."

"This does not mean that students and teachers have no First

Amendment rights at school. Quite the contrary. But within

the educational setting, the right to free speech is

implemented in ways that do not interfere with schools’

educational mission. Students cannot claim, for instance,

that they have the right to have incorrect answers to an

algebra quiz accepted as correct, nor can teachers claim a

right to teach anything they choose."

"Local school boards generally have the authority to

prescribe the curriculum, within state-approved guidelines.

Two Supreme Court cases, Hazelwood School District v.

Kuhlmeier (1988) and Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986)

grant administrators considerable discretion in deciding what

is educationally suitable. For example, lower courts upheld

action against one teacher for permitting violations of

school policy against profanity in teaching creative writing

(Lacks v. Ferguson Reorganized School District (8th Cir.

1998) and against another for staging a dramatic production

with controversial content (Boring v. Buncombe County Board

of Education (4th Cir. 1998). However, courts defer to

administrators and educators equally when their decisions

promote, rather than suppress, speech — as when schools

administrators elect to include controversial materials in

the curriculum (Monteiro v. Tempe Union High School 9th Cir.

1998)."

(https://ncac.org/resource/first-amendment-in-schools)

REMUDA

Sorry . . . next time will try to suppress the double-space in cut/paste from cites . . .

Tam Daras

Homophobia is alive and well in Bakersfield.

Moardeeb

And encouraged apparently!

Copper

Liberty and frontier are embarrassingly lacking in diversity and culture . A lot of ignorant backwards and backwoods folk raising ignorant kids who have no respect for anybody who doesn’t look like them. White and straight.


Boris25

When can I take my "Straight Pride" flag to school? Oh, that would be banned because it's not inclusive. What a joke!

Copper

Get over your straight self . You can take your straight pride flag to school when you are bullied beaten thrown out of your home marginalized and murdered for being straight. Grow up

Mrknowitall

Much ado about nothing. Go find your very own cause to rabble-rouse about. These are untrained, inexperienced kids attempting to rush in and have power. Most could not counsel a chili dog, much less a kid in crisis. God Bless everyone regardless of preferences, race, or creed. But quit trying to create an issue out of whole cloth. Hey. How about starting a committee to ban assault rifles. Real-time right-now US issue that needs ambitious young minds to action for safety in your schools. Sink yer teeth into something like that when ya get all wrapped around the axle about things. The cause is noble. But it’s just not getting any traction. So give it a rest. Just end up being a recruiting tool and hang-out joint for the alphabet soup crowd. Let the youngsters grow up in peace. Treat as you wish to be treated. Very simple.

GaryJohns

If my child identifies as a cat, I don't feed him kibbles and take him to a vet. I take him to a shrink.

Copper

So Are you saying lgbtq people can be “cured” by a therapist? Crawl back in your hole . Your comment is totally ignorant and not even funny . Educate your ignorance , grow some tolerance and compassion for someone other that what you see looking back at you in the mirror. Unless maybe your a self loathing closeted , then you are the one needing a shrink. Those who speak out the loudest against lgbtq are usually scared of what feelings may be stirred up inside themselves.It’s ok fly your flag and let others do the same in peace

GaryJohns

You just know this guy has a spoiler on his minivan…

Copper

You know this person has a monster truck with an overly loud engine to make up for ... or is it a corvette?

Tam Daras

So if your child was gay, would you do the same? You’re such a crack up. I enjoy your warped sense of humor. We should get together over some Arnold Palmers and share jokes.

Copper

Ima proud Mana Bear, need a hug?

Moardeeb

Wow, you should see one yourself.

REMUDA

Harassment is NEVER appropriate in any venue! All that might be gently offered in "communicating respectfully with sensitivity" . . . is this reminder:

"Almost all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service."

TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

"As it stands, all citizens whose birth assigned sex was male must register within thirty days of their eighteenth birthday." (https://transequality.org/issues/resources/selective-service-and-transgender-people)

"Individuals who are born female and changed their gender to male are not required to register. U.S. citizens or immigrants who are born male and changed their gender to female are still required to register."(https://www.sss.gov/Registration-Info/Who-Registration)

Also >> "A federal judge's decision Friday that the law requiring men -- but not women -- to register for a U.S. military draft is unconstitutional has no immediate impact on women or the U.S. Selective Service System." (https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/02/26/no-women-dont-have-sign-draft-yet-heres-whats-next.html)

Moardeeb

The political culture in Bakersfield promotes these types of clashes. I mean come on, when you have a representative like McCarthey speaking his nonsense on a national stage, some of it will spill over here.



Fight students! Kern County is an anomaly in blue CA. Fight for your rights!

ajweberman

all that good going to waste

BakoMark

Hehe yah the board needs this like the academic senate. I mean academic senate. Hehe. This isint Rome.

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