fbpx

California teacher harassed by students criticizes district, takes leave

Anti-Lesbian Harassment

Amy Estes, a Northern California middle school teacher, has taken a mental health leave after some students harasser her for being lesbian. Estes has criticized the school district for enabling the behavior. Photo: Facebook.

After a Northern California middle school teacher, who came forward about her district’s lack of support after she experienced anti-lesbian harassment by some of her students, a GoFundMe page was opened this week to financially help her as she looks for another job.

At a school board meeting earlier this month, about 30 students and supporters spoke in favor of the teacher, who has taken a mental health leave, and the district said in will be rolling out a “comprehensive plan for creating more inclusive schools,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

Amy Estes, an English teacher at Spring View Middle School in Rocklin, said a student found a picture of herself and her wife on Estes’ Instagram account. The student then created anti-lesbian memes and online posts about the couple on social media.

‘I WAS OUTED’

“I was outed,” Estes told the Sacramento Bee. Estes identifies as a lesbian, but said she’s never discussed the topic with her students.

Estes, who is also a stand-up comedian, said she has a thick skin, and the online taunts didn’t really bother her. She was upset that Rocklin Unified School District failed to intercede.

“While it is dehumanizing and painful to be outed, my hope was that it would die down,” Estes wrote on her Facebook page. “Instead, it escalated to the point that I was being harassed in and out of the classroom. When I sought the help and support of my administration, I did not find it.”

DISTRICT RESPONDS

When asked for comment, the school district issued a statement to the Bee.

“A priority for the Rocklin Unified School District is to ensure that all our students, staff and family members feel welcome, safe and supported. We respect the rights and diversity of everyone in our RUSD family. However, since this matter involves the potential for litigation, we can’t respond further.”

DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT

Estes has filed a discrimination complaint against the district with the State’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing and obtained an attorney who is working with a state mediator to reach an agreement with the district.

The GoFundMe page has a $10,000 goal.

At the June 13 school board meeting, student Connor Cook admonished the district for enabling the harassment, according to the Bee.

“It’s a different experience entirely to see this reinvigorated plague of hatred and ignorance spread in the form of complacency through a district office that supposedly prioritizes the ensured safety of all students, faculty, and family members….and it’s despicable,” Cook said.

NEW DISTRICT POLICY

Later, Diana Capra, the district’s spokeswoman, said the district would follow up with attendees, and that the district’s new policy would start at the beginning of the next school year.

She also said the district has already begun working with staff to improve the way they interrupt instances of intolerance, according to the article.

PROTECTED CLASS

The thing is that this isn’t about bullying,” Estes posted on her Facebook page. “It’s about being part of a legally protected class of human beings. LGBTQIA+ people are protected by laws. Period.

“The lack of appropriate action violated my right to protection,” she said. “Students also have this protection extended to them.”

About the author

Beatriz E. Valenzuela

Beatriz E. Valenzuela is an award-winning journalist who’s covered breaking news in Southern California since 2006 and has been on the front lines of national and international news events. She also covers all things nerd, including comic book culture and video games. She’s an amateur obstacle course racer, constant fact-checker, mother of three, and lover of all things geek.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!