Niles New Tech student victim of homophobic bullying
NILES Mich.--- A Niles New Tech student is speaking out after he and another classmate were the targets of homophobic bullying at school. Damian Smith and his mother, Amy, say there wasn't enough done to punish the students responsible.
The bullying came via a Snapchat group chat where messages ranged from making fun of Smith's clothing to students saying that gay people should "respectfully kill themselves,".
"It scared me, especially knowing its in the general area that were at," said Damian. "It was just horrifying."
Both Smith and his mother notified say they notified the principal after the messages came to light and then were told that the situation would be handled and the students responsible would be punished, however Smith said this was not the case.
"So far the school has done nothing to help other than suspend one person actually in the group chat," said Smith.
Niles Community Schools' Director of Special Education and Non-Certified Staff, Adam Burtsfield, issued a statement Friday saying:
"Niles Community Schools strives to be a safe and inclusive place for all children to learn, grow and play. We are committed to ensuring our schools are a bully-free zone, as we take our students’ wellbeing very seriously. We are aware of a bullying incident involving Niles students, and we are currently investigating these matters. While we cannot comment on the specifics at this time, we will ensure that the appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken once we have more information. As we work tirelessly to provide a warm and inclusive learning environment for all of our students, we know that we cannot do this alone – we need the support of the whole community to guide our students. To that end, we encourage families to speak to their children often about bullying and to report any incidents that they are aware of so that they can be addressed immediately."