Southwestern student receives support from community after attack – Enquirer Democrat

Southwestern student receives support from community after attack

Supporters for the victim of an attack at Southwestern High School stood in front of the Macoupin County Courthouse to offer encouragement as the victim walked in to the courthouse.. Enquirer~Democrat photo by Erin Sanson.

“No one should be afraid of who they are”

Enquirer-Democrat Reporter

A small group gathered on the east side of the Macoupin County Courthouse on Wednesday, Nov. 24. The group gathered to offer their support to a Southwestern student who was attacked in the school hallway in late September.

Both the victim and accused aggressor are minors, meaning few details were released about the case or individuals involved.

Witnesses to the incident say that during Southwestern’s homecoming week, each day of the week had a theme that students were asked to dress in accordance to. The Thursday of that week, Sept. 30, had the theme of “Flag Day.” The victim went into the school building wearing a rainbow flag, often seen as a symbol of gay pride, around his neck.

A fellow student asked the victim to take the flag off, which prompted the victim to ask, “why?”
It was then reported that a third student came up behind the victim and began punching him in the head while trying to remove the flag by force.

While the day’s theme was described as “flag day” by some, Southwestern School District Superintendent Kyle Hacke clarified that the theme for the day was actually “Red, White and Blue Day.”

Macoupin County State’s Attorney Jordan Garrison confirmed the accused aggressor of the incident had been arrested and charged with aggravated battery. The individual was then reportedly being held in a juvenile detention facility and later released to family members with a pending trial date of Nov. 24.

The group, organized on Facebook under the name, “Love and Support for Southwestern Student,” was outside the courthouse to show their support to the victim while he was walking in to the Courthouse on Wednesday morning.

Beginning at 8 a.m. people began showing up outside the courthouse to offer their support. There was no official time set for the trial to begin, though times of both 8:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. were given by different sources as the time the court case was to start.

The group was made up of fellow students, friends, and family of the victim but members of the community with no connection to the individuals involved also offered their support to the victim and the group.

The Edwardsville chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the Macoupin County Democrats and the Macoupin County Action Alliance, represented by Deborah McNaughton, as well as former State Senator Andy Manar, were present at the Courthouse the morning of Nov. 24. It is unclear if Manar was present as a private citizen or in an official capacity. Manar was unavailable for comment before press time.

At 10 a.m. the group left the courthouse in Carlinville to head to Southwestern High School. The group stood across the street from the school holding signs showing their support of the victim.
Organizers of the event said that the group was needed due to the continued lack of acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and the closed-minded ideas some community members perpetuated, especially as more of society, in general, became accepting and tolerant.

Members of the group reported that in the aftermath of the incident the students at Southwestern High School were told, by school administration, to “remain quiet about the incident and not talk about the issue.” The school has also been noted as telling students that anyone who talked about the incident without a teacher present would be disciplined.

Students then took to social media to talk about the encounter, with many blaming the victim for wearing an item that was unlikely to be seen as acceptable by some of his peers.

One student commented via their social media, “U [sic] wear a gay pride flag to school and don’t expect people to do anything,” adding, “U go to Southern [sic] high where we support the confederate flags and u wonder why u get beat up?” followed by a laughing emoji.

Organizers of the group mentioned that several students have talked about switching schools as they did not feel safe at Southwestern.

Superintendent Hacke was unavailable for comment before press time.

Those who could attend the event at the courthouse did. The supporters online and from around the community who were unable to attend, still made their presence and support felt with well wishes and messages of support for the victim.


Community, County News, Crimes and Accidents, Headlines, Homepage Slider, Local Government, Local News, Local News 4, Reference & Education::Legal, Regional, School, Schools

via Enquirer Democrat

December 1, 2021 at 06:57PM

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