About 200 students at a Los Angeles-area Catholic high school walked out of class Friday in solidarity with a lesbian student after BuzzFeed News exposed how the school’s administration harassed her for years, threatening to out her to her parents if she didn't adhere to horrific, arbitrary rules.
The article detailed how Magali Rodriguez, a student at Bishop Amat Memorial High School in Upland, Calif., was forced to sit through disciplinary meetings and see the school psychologist all while faculty watched her every move. She was also barred from sitting with her girlfriend at lunchtime, allegedly because of public displays of affection between the two. The girlfriends were told that if they obeyed the rules they would not be outed to their parents.
The terror at the hands of the administration began about three years ago when Rodriguez was first navigating her sexual identity. She and her girlfriend were called into the administrative offices and told that there had been complaints about their relationship. That's when the rules were laid down about what they could do to satisfy officials and avoid being outed to their parents.
"We were really afraid on campus," Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News. "We didn’t hold hands, we hardly hugged or anything."
After years of the abuse at the hands of administrators, Rodriguez wrote a letter to her parents explaining what she’d endured.
"It sounded like a suicide letter. It was a huge cry for help," said her father, Nicolas Rodriguez.
On Friday, students rallied in her honor with chants, prayers, and song although she no longer attends the school due to the harassment she endured, BuzzFeed reports.
"I never would’ve imagined Amat to be an environment like this," said a student who wished to remain anonymous. "Once I started to read about the article I was in full shock. I decided to walk out to stand up for her."
By Saturday, administrators issued a statement in which they blamed Rodriguez and her girlfriend for bringing the rules on themselves for having engaged in public displays of affection. Meanwhile, other students said that the straight kids show PDA often and are not otherized the way Rodriguez was.
“Bishop Amat High School is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students, irrespective of their sexual orientation,” according to the statement. It continues to say that the school abides by “the accepted teachings of the Catholic Church.”