Broward County Public Schools and law enforcement are investigating after cellphone video showed a student at a Deerfield Beach school physically bullying a sixth grader because of her sexuality.
Chad Sanford, 13, identifies as a trans teen. She says verbal bullying has been happening all school year long at Deerfield Beach Middle School. But last week, the bullying turned physical.
The cellphone video shows someone pick up Sanford from behind and slam her on the ground in the hallway. Students stand around, yelling, but did nothing to help as Sanford struggles to get up from the ground.
"He said he was going to knock the gay out of me," Sanford recalled, adding her bully called her homophobic slurs. "Why do my sexual orientation have to with you not liking me? Leave me alone. I don't want to be bothered."
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Sanford doesn't understand why growing up LGBTQ should be so hard.
"I feel like I can't go to school without being hated by my sexual orientation," she said. "I don't think I can live anymore without this being a problem in society ... it just makes me feel some type of way."
Broward County Public Schools issued a statement about the incident, saying, "The school’s leadership is taking this incident seriously and is working with law enforcement in its investigation. Any students involved will face appropriate school disciplinary consequences in accordance with the codebook for student conduct."
The Broward Sheriff's Office are investigating along with BCPS. No disciplinary action has been taken yet.
“When I hear about this, it takes me back to my own issues that I experienced when I was younger," said Tatiana Williams, who runs an advocacy organization called the Trans Inclusive Group.
She says what happened at the school to Chad isn’t about agreeing with another person’s choices.
"But I think it’s important that we respect people the way we want to be respected, right?" Williams said. "It just goes back to human courtesy and human dignity, and making sure parents at home are teaching their kids what to do and what not to do.”
Trans kids and gay kids are the most likely to be bullied and attacked, says the director of SAVE, South Florida's leading LGBTQ rights group.
“And the attacks that have been on them have really increased over the last couple of years, particularly for trans women and trans women of color," said Orlando Gonzales of SAVE.