January 21, 2022

“Boys on my bus use the word ‘fa****’ every day.”

64.8 percent of LGBTQ+ students reported a homophobic environment at East. (Aiden Rood (’23))

“Gay [is] used as an insult.”

“There would be guys who were like, ‘Don’t get near the lesbian.’”

“Nobody ever… tries to put a stop to it.”

A small sampling of the written responses Eastside received via multiple methods of surveying shared that these experiences represent the accounts of 40.2 percent of East students who feel they attend school in a homophobic environment. Among LGBTQ+ students, the rate of concern is even higher, at 64.8 percent, a strong majority of potentially affected students feel that East is homophobic.

Many students expressed concerns about the use of homophobic slurs at East. One student, who spoke with Eastside on the condition of anonymity, said they hear slurs around five times per day at East. This student, who identifies as LGBTQ+, additionally said they are personally targeted by a slur around one time per week.

“I’ve heard really messed up things,” wrote one student regarding the use of homophobic slurs. They also said they see less pushback against homophobic slurs than they see against other harmful types of speech.

Another prevalent concern relating to homophobia was that of targeted harassment. Specifically, several students reported ongoing harassment centered around one of East’s courtyards, where some LGBTQ+ students have said they sat during lunch breaks. The courtyard has been repeatedly called derogatory names by students outside of it, including “full of [r****d]s.”

“Some kids call the courtyard ‘the zoo,’” one student wrote. Students sitting in the courtyard have also repeatedly been called “animals at the zoo” and other derogatory terms.

“I’ve had many friends be called the n-slur, I’ve had myself and some of my friends called the f-slur. There was a thing happening where some kids would physically hurt and target kids in that courtyard strictly because they were LGBTQ+,” an anonymous student said about the courtyard situation. While they said they did not witness violence directly, they reported having seen friends’ bruises from physical altercations stemming from harassment in the courtyard.

While Perry said he was aware of one past incident involving targeted harassment at East, he had not heard of physical violence or lasting harassment in the courtyard. He encouraged students to report all instances of harassment, saying that while students may wish that issues could go away on their own, that likely won’t happen. More generally, Perry also said he believes that the rate of students reporting a homophobic environment is currently high because the COVID-19 pandemic led students to become more immature. He predicted that once students have fully adjusted to being back in school, there will be less homophobia.

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