Fed up with the inaction of school officials, Jesse’s mom, Vanessa Tijerina-Arguelles took a picture of her son with a NOH8 symbol scrolled on his cheek holding up two signs telling the story and uploaded it to Facebook with the hashtag #NOH8.
The signs read:
"HELLO! I'M JESUS (JESSE) FRANCO. I'M NOT GAY. STILL, I GET CALLED GAY AND FAGGOT AT MY SCHOOL EVERY DAY. RAYMONDVILLE (TX) INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT DOES NOTHING. MY PARENTS & I HAVE TRIED 2 GET THEM 2 DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. THE LAST TIME I WAS ATTACKED, I GOT 2 DAYS OUT OF SCHOOL SUSPENSION FOR OVERCOMING THE BULLY, DEFENDING MYSELF. PARENTS OF THESE KIDS ARE BULLIES 2. MAYBE THAT'S WHY THE SCHOOL DOESN'T ACT & THE KIDS(S) DON'T STOP? PLEASE SHARE SO OTHER KIDS, LIKE ME, CAN SEE THEY ARE NOT ALONE. THE SCHOOL MAY VIOLATE MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND MY RIGHT TO (SILENT) PROTEST; THEY HAVE GIVEN ME NO CHOICE, NO HELP. THANK YOU. NO H8."
Accompanying the photo was a message from Tigerina-Arguelles, which read:
"My son is 11 years old. His school district is in a community that is a pro-bully, anti-victim community in EVERY aspect. Where victims should be of a concern (law enforcement, government, school district), and be protected. The latest insult was a gay slur, a shouted gay-bashing during lunch in the cafeteria, followed by ooohs. With faculty present. My son has a learning disability, he was caught off guard and unable to react. The bully who did this is a notorious bully, his mom is a nortorius bully. Both the mother and her son have cyber-bullied and gay bashed my boy. Enough is enough."
The story was picked up by the NOH8 Campaign shortly after it was posted on Friday and has since been shared more than 132, 400 times .
Tijerina-Arguelles says she uploaded the photo as a last resort before her son went to school Friday morning. "It was not because he did not want to go; it was because he was afraid if he fought back that he would be punished again, and they wouldn't care that he was defending himself," Tijerina-Arguelles told Towleroad. "He has a learning disability. He is actually extremely bright. He just has trouble socially and with new concepts and surprising circumstances, such as being bully-ambushed."
Tijerina-Arguelles said when her son asked why bullies were calling him antigay slurs she explained they were making assumptions because he was different and that’s when Jessie asked if there were campaigns to protect people against antigay bullying.
She tells Towleroad, "I said, 'Oh honey, there are many, some have been around forever. The newest one is NOH8. Have you heard of it?' ... I logged online and showed him the campaign. He said, 'I bet no one in Raymondville knows about that.' I said: 'I bet you're right. You want people to know about that?' He nodded. And voila! We made it happen. He got there [to school] and only one girl knew what it was about. Teachers asked him, 'Is that gang related?' He said, 'No, I support gays and their rights.' So proud of my boy. Others took out markers and followed suit."
Since encountering Jesse’s photo and story online, many have expressed interest in contacting the Raymondville school superintendent.
His contact information is:
Johnny I. Pineda
Telephone: (956) 689-8176