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Federal authorities are investigating attacks on transgender and Latino students in Virginia

Norview High School entrance Norfolk Virginia
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Norview High School officials in Norfolk are accused of looking the other way toward harassment of some students who were targeted for their identity.

Cwnewser

The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into incidents of violence inVirginia against bothtransgender and Latino students at Norview High School in Norfolk. The investigation follows reports of harassment and physical assaults that school officials allegedly failed to address adequately.

Norfolk public radio station WHROreports that the DOJ contacted one mother, Melissa Corrigan, regarding her transgender son, Matt, who faced severe harassment and violence due to his gender identity. According to Corrigan, her son was subjected to escalating harassment that included a sexual assault in a school bathroom and a physical attack during class. Despite Matt reporting these incidents to the school administration, she said no effective action was taken, and school officials did not inform Corrigan. Feeling unsafe, Matt eventually left Norfolk Public Schools and is now struggling with his education outside the traditional school environment.

In addition to the violence against transgender students, the DOJ is also investigating attacks on Latino students. WHROreported earlier this year that Latino students at Norview High School were allegedly targeted and assaulted based on their race. One incident involved Martin Martinez-Bautista, a first-year student who was attacked by a group of 15 middle school students, leaving him injured. The attackers reportedly told him they were targeting him because he was Hispanic, the station reported. Some families of Latino students have expressed frustration over the school officials’ inadequate response to these attacks, with some fearing retaliation due to their immigration status.

Before Matt left the school, Corrigan emailed the DOJ in the spring of 2023, hoping to get help. She initially had a brief conversation with someone from the agency but assumed it was a dead end after receiving no follow-up. However, nearly a year later, an attorney contacted Corrigan in March and met with her and her son for two hours. The attorney informed her that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was investigating whether Norfolk Public Schools adhered to protocols for handling student violence. He indicated that the DOJ had found sufficient evidence of non-compliance by the district to warrant a thorough investigation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia is investigating whether Norfolk Public Schools followed appropriate protocols in dealing with student violence.

Norfolk Public Schools Superintendent Sharon Byrdsong declined to comment on the investigation. The district’s spokesperson, Madeline Curott, stated that the district “is not aware of any Department of Justice investigations regarding concerns from the Hispanic community,” without addressing the transgender-specific allegations.

The Eastern Virginia District of the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not confirm the investigation’s existence but acknowledged the seriousness of such allegations in an email to WHRO.

As the DOJ continues its investigation, the spotlight remains on Norfolk Public Schools to ensure the safety and well-being of all students, regardless of their race or gender identity.

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).