Family wants accountability from students and parents after attack on trans middle schooler

Family wants accountability from students and parents after attack on trans middle schooler

In the time we’ve battled the novel coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen several state lawmakers push regressive, exclusionary, anti-trans bills that attack some of the most vulnerable folks in our country. Some of these bills fizzled out, but some, disturbingly, are now law thanks to Republican governors of their respective states. So much of covering these bills is about getting into the minutia of language—what, specifically, the harm could be, and who, specifically, would be impacted. With all of the back and forth about what a bill means (and what precedent it could set), it can be easy to lose sight people who suffer due to transphobia and bias, whether or not a hateful law is technically on the books or not.

According to a mom in Spokane, Washington, her son was not only beat up at school because he’s transgender, but a fellow student took a video of the incident, as peers circled around the fight. Before long, the video gained traction on social media. Mom Sara Ring says her son, Ian, was ultimately the victim of a hate crime. Oh, and Ian? He’s a middle schooler.

In speaking to local outlet KXLY, Ian, who has been transitioning since he was in the sixth grade, recalled that a few of his peers at Salk Middle School used anti-trans slurs about him before the actual fight happened. Ian tells the outlet that he was pushed by a peer when he was headed to the bus pickup area, then tried pushing him back, and then was hit. According to Ian and his mom, Ian attempted to take the student’s glasses to get him to stop, but it made him “more aggressive.”

“I turned around, he pushed me, and then I pushed him back. And he got closer, and he punched me,” Ian told local station KREM 2 News. “And then he continued from there, then I had taken his glasses off him to try and get him away.”

In the brief clip, which is included in the YouTube video below, it appears that a fellow middle-schooler throws punches at Ian several times, while other students circle around the two and watch.

Ian’s family says he has bruises on his face and neck from the attack. As well, Ian wears braces, and Ring says one of his teeth has become loose. Ian’s family filed a police report, and according to the Spokane Police Department, one minor has been charged with four-degree assault. 

The school district released a statement saying it is taking the matter seriously and is investigating. 

“I need these children to be held accountable,” Ring said to KXLY, adding that she wants “their parents to be held accountable.” In speaking to KREM, Ring stressed that she’s talked to Ian about the importance of walking away and not making himself a target, especially when he isn’t with friends or family. 

“He’s gone to the mall a few times and was wearing sweaters that are promoting identity, and you need to be very careful,” Ring told the outlet in the video interview below. “Like, this is an issue, and if your family’s not there to protect, you can’t just “be yourself” without worrying about even adults, you know… Coming after you.”

As Daily Kos recently covered, LGBTQ+ students have reported concerning rates of bullying, both in-person and online, from their peers. While we’ve highlighted inspiring stories of young people standing in solidarity with their peers (and even with their teachers), many LGBTQ+ people continue to face harassment, abuse, bullying, and even physical and sexual violence because of their identities. This is as important a time as any to remind folks of all ages that allyship (including allyship to LGBTQ+ people) is something you do, not something you label yourself. 

You can catch some of the KREM interviews with Ian and his mother below.

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