Students at a high school in Berlin, Wis. rallied around a trans classmate earlier this month after he was allegedly made by a group of students to pull his pants down and lift his shirt. In response to authorities saying they found no evidence of an assault, students at the school organized a walkout.
The student, Lucas, said he had been sexually assaulted several times in the bathroom but feared coming forward. On November 3, a group of students surrounded him while he was in a bathroom stall and recorded a video of him through a hole in the door.
"I went back to my classroom crying and asked my teacher to see the counselor," Lucas told local station WLWK. "I was uncomfortable, scared. I didn't really want to walk around the hallways after that. I tried to ignore it, but it was hard. I finally spoke up to my friends about it, and now everybody knows about it."
Lucas told the outlet he reported the incident to the school and filed a police report.
The police, in a statement to the media, said, “After multiple interviews and examining the associated evidence of the alleged assault, our investigation discovered no physical assault or attack against the alleged victim took place.”
Authorities have asked anyone with information about the video to come forward.
High school students then staged a walkout in protest of the police response.
“We sat there for a while and we were trying to get our questions answered, and we were kind of getting blown off and they were trying to get us inside, but we wanted this to be public, we wanted people to see us, hear us,” Berlin High School senior Amber Olmstead, the organizer of the walkout told local TV station WBAY.
“We want students to feel safe at a school because we're expected to be there. So we should be expected to be safe,” Olmstead told WLWK. “At the end of the day, they are the adults. We are children. I understand they can't control these students. They're their own person at the end of the day. But they need to at least try and prevent them from being able to do all of this.”
Another student, junior Autumn Peterson, added, “There’s been a big past of assault and homophobia in our school, and it just needs to come to an end.”
A video showing the walkout has more than 700,000 views on TikTok. In the video, students can be heard yelling “Trans lives matter!”
The Berlin Area School District said in a statement to WLWK that it was “aware of a student walkout in response to allegations of a student assault at the high school.
“The Berlin Area School District is committed to the success of all students in a safe learning environment and we take such allegations seriously. The school district is cooperating with local law enforcement who are investigating this situation. The district is also conducting its own investigation.”