Two dozen protesters rallied outside a Catholic school board office in Ontario, Canada this week to support a high school student who says she was bullied by a teacher for being gay.
Eighteen-year-old Brooke Mulligan says a religion teacher at St. Thomas of Villanova bullied her in class because of her sexual orientation. She says the taunting started only after she came out of the closet and included grading her differently from her peers, giving her “disgusted looks,” and making negative comments about LGBT people in class.
Even after she filed a formal complaint, the school board denied the allegations and even threatened to take legal action against Brooke, according to her mother, Tina Dagenais:
“I think there’s a teacher that has strong beliefs in what she’s teaching, and I think she’s crossed the line,” said Dagenais. “I think that instead of having support at the school, it went the opposite direction. It’s already hard enough being a teenager. And not having the support, especially at school, that’s rough.”
Fortunately, Brooke’s community has pulled out all the stops to stand up for her. On Friday, protesters outside the school board offices held up signs reading messages such as “Gay Rights Are Human Rights” and “No To Bullying.” Brooke, her mother, and her sister Ashley Mulligan were also in attendance, visibly moved by the support:
“I’m extremely angry with how a teacher can treat a student,” said Ashley, Brooke’s older sister. “I am extremely protective over both my little sisters, and it sucks that I can’t do anything. This is the best that I can do, is stand up for her, and be here and protest.”
We clearly have a long way to go before religious-minded teachers get off their high horses and treat all students equally; until then, the solidarity this community has shown is truly inspiring.