The father of a 14-year-old freshman cheerleader is speaking out after his son was abused with homophobic slurs and threatened physically at his high school last Friday, October 18. The young victim, who has not been identified because he is a minor, had attended a prep rally where he was allegedly confronted by some members of the Adrian Wilcox High School Chargers’ football team who had directed homophobic slurs at him.
School officials were still trying to piece together exactly what happened Monday and asked for the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) to investigate. In an interview with San Jose’s The Mercury News on Monday, the father of the cheerleader said that both his son and an unidentified female member of the cheerleading squad had been harassed and physically threatened.
“We are fearful for his safety — now more than ever,” the father said.
The father indicated to The Mercury that his son had elected to return to classes on Monday.
Jennifer Dericco, a spokeswoman for Santa Clara Unified School District told the Los Angeles Blade and Bay Area media outlets in a statement, “At Santa Clara Unified School District, we proactively work to create an environment that embraces diversity and we do not tolerate harassment or bullying of any kind.”
A SCPD spokesperson, Captain Wahid Kazem told media outlets that his department has assigned two investigators to determine if any crime had been committed. Kazem acknowledged that there were conflicting reports of the incident.
On Saturday, an anonymous person posted a petition at Change.org, stating that;
“At a football game on October 18th, members of the Wilcox High School Varsity football team chanted homophobic slurs (including “f-g”) at a male member of the cheerleading team. They called him “gay” for cheerleading for THEIR team, and showing up every game to cheer them on.”
The petition which had garnered nearly 3,826 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, also noted;
“While many people are aware of this incident, there is a slim chance much will be done to change this behavior by tweeting/posting about it,” the petition, posted anonymously, stated. “The main purpose of this petition is to call the administration and football coaches to attention, so they can investigate this incident.”
Dericco told The Mercury News Sunday night that school officials began investigating as soon as the charges were brought to their attention. However, a source close to the football team told the paper that the incident could be a case of misinterpretation.
“At the rally Friday, which administrators and teachers attended, the crowd and football players chanted, “Hey, Hey, Hey,” while waving arms back and forth, the source said, adding that the cheerleader might have interpreted the chants as, “Gay, Gay, Gay.””
The teen’s father, stricken and emotional at times, disputed what the source told The Mercury News the paper reported.
“This is far from a misunderstanding,” said the father, who broke down several times during a 30-minute interview.
Echoing the information posted on the petition on Change.org, the father says his son heard far worse, being called a Fag, a slang word for being gay that is considered a slur the paper reported adding that the father also said his son had been subjected to other incidents over the past month.
““Even after everything that happened, he went back and faced it,” the father said. “He’s so courageous. He has a responsibility to his team and to the school. He’s out there to cheer the football team, and this is what they do.”
The father said his son faced more verbal insults during halftime at the game. He said the cheerleaders protested the team by refusing to hold up banners the players run through to enter the field.
The father also told the paper he and his son had met Monday morning with Wilcox H.S. principal Kristin Gonzalez and a school district representative he did not identify.”
The paper also noted that the Wilcox High School cheerleading coaches Bunny Demera and Michelle Bumbaca declined to comment, referring all questions to the school district’s spokeswoman.