In America school resource officers are sworn law enforcement officers responsible for safety and crime prevention. But when Liv Funk reported homophobic abuse and a physical attack to Jason Griggs – the officer at her school in Oregon (inset) – she was left stunned by his response.
Detailing the homophobia and harrassment she experienced at North Bend High School in a piece published yesterday (Monday) by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Funk, who is about to graduate, wrote:
I spoke with the school resource officer and gave him a rundown of what happened. His response was stunning, but not surprising in hindsight. He said that if I’m going to be an open member of the LGBT community that I should prepare for things like this.
The officer said that being gay was a choice, and it was against his religion. He said that he had homosexual friends, but because I was an open homosexual, I was going to hell.
Yes, right there in his office, inside the school, he straight up told me I was going to hell. That was his response to me getting attacked.
Funk had been assaulted by a male pupil. He said “I fucking hate homos” and whacked her on an ankle with his skateboard. When she reached out to stop him from hitting her again, he grabbed his skateboard and smashed her right hand.
My hand hurt so bad and swelled up like a balloon. Eventually, my mom had to take me to the doctor.
On another occasion a student drove his car up close to Funk and her then girlfriend and yelled “faggot”. This was the son of Bill Lucero, the school’s principal.
Local news station KVAL reports that a recent inquiry by the Oregon Department of Education concluded that “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation may have occurred at the school” based on multiple accounts from LGBT students who say the school’s administration did nothing to intervene during incidents of bullying.
Among the complaints leveled at the school was one that alleged that a gay student was forced to read the Bible.
The good news is that the school’s principal was removed yesterday after the ACLU reached two settlements with the North Bend School District.
The district is also required to:
Ask North Bend Police Department to remove the school resource officer or provide a new officer for the role.
The settlements also require the district to work with the ACLU of Oregon to create policies and training to prevent future discrimination and remain under Oregon Department of Education oversight for five years.
The settlements were made on behalf Liv Funk and former student Hailey Smith.
Said Mat dos Santos, Legal Director at the ACLU of Oregon:
This is a tremendous achievement for our clients and all the current and future students of North Bend. It sends a clear message to everyone at the district: If you break the law by discriminating against LGBTQ students or engaging in religious proselytization at school, there are serious consequences.