More than 100 students at a Maine high school rallied this week in support of a classmate who says he’s been subjected to intense bullying on campus because he’s gay.
Garrett McCann, who attends York High School in York, Maine, told Bangor Daily News he “definitely” felt supported after he spotted the rally, which began at 6:30 a.m. Monday. The 14-year-old’s parents, Timothy and Julie McCann, were among the crowd of demonstrators who wore rainbow-printed clothing and carried placards with slogans like “You are beautiful” and “Love is love.”
Garrett, who reportedly came out as gay over the summer, said his supporters “definitely outnumbered” the classmates he’s been bullied by. “It’s about four or five or six people [who were being bullies], and look at the people here,” he told Bangor Daily News. “I don’t even know some of these people and here they are.”
Students line Webber Rd outside York HS holding signs that say "Be Kind" and "You Are Beautiful" pic.twitter.com/wE7m9zSHzM— Katie Bavoso (@KatieBavoso) October 23, 2017
Timothy McCann echoed his son’s sentiments, telling local NBC affiliate WSCH 6, “Nobody wants to see their kid get picked or any kid get picked on.”
The media attention around the rally has also brought to light assault allegations that may involve Garrett’s older brother. Julie McCann told local ABC affiliate WMTW Portland that her older son, who is also a York High School student, was suspended last week for taking on one of his younger sibling’s alleged bullies. Similarly, Bangor Daily News reported that Garrett’s brother could face criminal charges after engaging in “a physical confrontation” last week.
Police Sgt. Steve Spofford confirmed to The Portland Press Herald that a student was charged with assault Oct. 20, but would not reveal the student’s identity.
In a statement emailed to WCSH 6 on Monday, Principal Karl Francis said the rally “signified a statement of unity and respect” among students, and noted that staff had been cooperating in the investigation of the alleged assault.
“We have dedicated the day to listen to students and look forward to working alongside them to ensure that all students feel welcome, safe and supported at York High School,” he wrote. “Violence is never an acceptable solution to conflict. ... All students should feel safe at York High School and we hold that as a priority.”
On Tuesday, Francis told HuffPost, “The narrative in the news is not an accurate reflection of recent events. A student was assaulted and an investigation is currently underway.”
Students said they hoped the rally would ultimately send a clear message to school administrators.
“We want an open dialogue with our school and with our administration,” Samantha Corbett told WMTW Portland, “and we want to work together for the same goal of creating a school in which everyone can come in and feel safe and happy, and absolutely free to be who they are.”
Catch the latest in LGBTQ news by subscribing to the Queer Voices newsletter.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.