Hundreds of students walked out of Lee’s Summit High School in Kansas City, Kansas on Monday in support of a gay student who has allegedly faced harassment and severe bullying, which culminated in a recent fight that left one student injured.
A Change.org petition calling for “LGBTQ+ safety at Lee’s Summit High School” had garnered nearly 2,700 signatures as of Monday afternoon.
Danny Lillis, a senior who is openly gay, said that he and his friends have been targeted and bullied by another group of students since the beginning of the school year.
“They have given them a hard time for Danny being gay, for him wearing makeup to school, for him expressing himself,” said Melanie Davies, mother of Lillis’ friend Malani Hohlbaugh.
Lillis said that the group of students has routinely spouted hateful remarks and even thrown food at them. He claimed that he went to administrators on at least four separate occasions to report the incidents, “crying, saying ‘I don’t feel safe’ repeatedly. And nothing changed.”
“Every single time that this happened, our kids have gone to student administration and reported it,” Davies said. “There is supposed to be a zero tolerance policy for bullying, but nobody is doing anything about. They haven’t gotten the help that they needed.”
After weeks of bullying, parents and students said the rising tension resulted in a fight at school last Wednesday.
“The same group of kids started in on them again, and my daughter just had enough. She ran up the stairs after one of the boys and yelled at him to not talk to them like that, to not say those things,” Davies said.
Lillis, Hohlbaugh and another friend confronted the boy, she said, and then turned around to find another student who also had been bullying them.
“They turned around and he was walking in front of them. My daughter tried to get around him. But their shoulders hit, and then he shoved her. So she shoved him back, and he punched her right in the face.”
“No teachers were around. Students broke it up.”
“Davies claims that the school did not call her to inform her there had been a fight, or that her daughter had been hurt,” according to the Kansas City Star. “She said her daughter threw up twice at school afterward. Davies later took her daughter to the emergency room, where they learned she had a broken nose. Lillis also was left with bruises and cuts on his face, he said.”
District spokeswoman Katy Bergen said in an email that, “all forms of bullying are prohibited in LSR7. We investigate all complaints of bullying that we receive.”