Dozens of students of a high school in southern Washington staged a walkout on Monday after a trans classmate was reportedly attacked on school premises and had to be taken to a hospital.
Kalama High School students said that the victim, a trans boy, was viciously assaulted by another student early last week.
“I watched a student take his steel-toe to the head of another student and he repeatedly was hitting the student over and over again, and calling him slurs,” sophomore Katrina Rick-Martens told local television station KOIN-TV. “The student had been on the ground, begging him to stop and he just kept going,” she added.
The incident took place on June 6 as students were leaving for the day. The victim had to be taken to a hospital but has since returned to school.
On Monday, dozens of students staged a walkout protest demanding action from school officials. They were carrying signs with messages that read “Let all students feel safe at this school,” “Choose love over hate,” and “We need change.”
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Nick Shanmac, the district’s communications manager, told KOIN 6 News that he understands the students’ concerns.
“You do have this frustration that it appears on the surface that not enough is being done,” he said. “There are a lot of emotions that we understand it can feel like that, it can feel like nothing is happening.”
During the protest, another student made a “threat of violence” against the students who were showing support to their classmate, prompting officials to place the Kalama District School on lockdown, police said.
According to KATU-TV, police took a boy into custody Monday afternoon after he reportedly made threats to aim a machine gun at students participating in the pro-LGBTQ demonstration.
The boy had made the comments to another student, who was not affiliated with the protest. That student then notified authorities.
“In a situation like this, your children and their safety is our number one priority,” police said in a letter to students and families. “Within minutes, the schools were locked down, a perimeter was established, and active efforts commenced to locate the suspect.”
Criminal charges against the suspect were forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.