A middle schooler in Florida’s Broward County school system was slammed to the ground by a fellow student in the hallway at school and called antigay epithets in an attack that was caught on tape and made the local news.
Describing the incident that was caught on video at Deerfield Beach Middle School, Sanford told the station, “He just stepped on my face, they were kicking and spitting on me, and all that was a little clip of the video.”
But it wasn’t just the one bully. Sanford's classmates joined in.
“They were screaming. They were saying, ‘We got that gay faggot,’” Sanford said.
The Broward County Public Schools issued a statement saying that “school safety is our highest priority” and that the district was working with law enforcement to investigate the incident. But the violence caught on video is not the first time the bully has publicly ridiculed Sanford on school property.
“One day he embarrassed me in front of everybody. He stood on top of the stage and said to me, ‘I’m going to knock the gay out of him,’” Sanford said.
Sanford’s loved ones say that since she returned to school this year, she’s changed. She was once a happy kid but has recently turned to thoughts of dying by suicide.
“[She] wanted to kill [herself] because they keep bullying [her]. Hearing that, it just makes me cry,’” said Sanford’s aunt Raquel Showers.
Speaking to NBC News, Sanford added, “I just kept thinking, Why should I be here? Why are you beating me up for being myself? He put me through hell.”
Activists pointed out that anti-LGBTQ+ and specifically anti-trans bullying are widespread.
“And the attacks that have been on them have really increased over the last couple of years, particularly for trans women and trans women of color,” Orlando Gonzales, director of South Florida LGBTQ+ rights group SAVE, told Miami TV station WTVJ.
“When I hear about this, it takes me back to my own issues that I experienced when I was younger,” Tatiana Williams, who runs an organization called the Trans Inclusive Group, told the station.
“It’s important that we respect people the way we want to be respected, right?” Williams continued. “It just goes back to human courtesy and human dignity, and making sure parents at home are teaching their kids what to do and what not to do.”
Watch the WPLG news report below.
If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860. LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at (866) 488-7386. You can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 is available 24 hours a day to people of all ages and identities.