Spirit-week activity highlights bullying at Twin Falls High

Published: May. 3, 2017 at 6:25 PM MDT
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What was meant to bring the school together seems to be doing the opposite.

A spirit week activity at Twin Falls High School split the student body into boys and girls, leaving out students who don't fit into either group.

“It’s meant to pull the school tighter together and in some cases, like this one, maybe we didn’t achieve the ultimate goal that the students had,” Superintendent Wiley Dobbs said, “but they were trying.”

The day turned hurtful for transgender students and their allies who chose not to wear the suggested pink or blue for gender day.

Students say they were bullied and harassed for wearing purple instead, some mocking the idea of being transgender.

“I think it’s ok to disagree, but we can do that without hostility,” said Jen Blair, a LGBT advocate and parent.

At the end of a long day, students walked out of school and saw their rock painted with the symbols for male and female and the words “tradition is tradition.”

Over the weekend, some of the students tried to paint it with something more accepting: the school colors and the words “all bruins united.”

“They kept saying things like ‘everybody’s going to agree with that,’ ‘nobody can disagree with that,’ ‘that’s something everyone can agree on,’ ‘it’ll be awesome and it’ll be there for days,’” Blair said, “so lots of tears and heartbreak again when it was painted over.”

Blair said it was painted over again even after that, with two X chromosomes and an XY pair saying something about science.

She says she’s happy everyone has their own beliefs, but it’s no excuse to be mean.

“I’m unaware of any belief system that supports bullying,” Blair said.

Superintendent Wiley Dobbs said students who are being bullied should ask for help from a teacher or administrator.

He also said the students should treat each other with respect.

“In any situation the golden rule is a good one to follow,” Dobbs said. “Treat people how you’d like to be treated yourself. Be understanding and helpful with one another, not hurtful.”

Blair has a similar idea, and she hopes that becomes the new tradition.

“When the student body stands up and says enough is enough, our tradition is kindness, our tradition is respect, that’s when these things will change,” she said.