A gay 14-year-old from Defiance, Ohio, was viciously attacked at school last week when draped in a Pride flag. The flag was eighth-grader Tristen Torrez’s way of coming out, according to The Crescent News.
"I was wearing it to state a message, and state just because one person is who they are, proud of who they are, doesn't mean others shouldn't be proud of who they are," Torrez told TV station WTOL. "This was my official way of saying I was gay and not trying to hide it.”
In the incident, which was captured on video, a boy grabbed the flag that was around Torrez’s neck, making Torrez fall hard on the bleachers where he was sitting. The boy continued attacking Torrez, who sustained a bruised collarbone and a scraped ankle, and was having headaches afterward.
“We had gone outside to the stadium around 11:45 or so yesterday morning, and some friends and I were just sitting in the bleachers for a while when I started hearing that someone might come up to me and dump some water on me or push me,” Torrez said.
“He came up behind me, dumped water on me, pulled me down the bleachers, grabbed the flag off my neck, beat me with it, and choked and hit me a few times. He also used a slur once or twice,” he said. “When I went to school with the flag, I thought I might hear a slur or two, but I didn’t think I would get beat up for bringing as something as innocent as a flag to school.”
Torrez’s mother, Brianne Torrez, called the school upon hearing what had happened to her son.
“[School officials] said the police were involved, I was told there was a video, and then I saw exactly what happened. I was pretty upset that not only wasn’t I contacted but that he had to ride the bus home from school,” Brianne Torrez said. “What if something else had happened on the bus? It’s definitely a very unfortunate situation.”
An investigation of the incident is ongoing, according to Defiance County Prosecuting Attorney Morris Murray, who said that “a lot of additional information needs to be gathered.”
Defiance City Schools Superintendent Bob Morton released a statement regarding the incident:
“Some of you are aware of an incident that took place at a middle school event yesterday. This incident has received social media attention. We wish to let everyone know this incident was dealt with swiftly by the middle school administration and local law enforcement. Due to student privacy laws, we are unable to share any other information. Please know, this type of behavior is not and will not be tolerated at Defiance City Schools.”