Last week we shared the story of Dynasty Young, the openly gay high-school student who's now facing expulsion from Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, Indiana after discharging an electrical self-protection device in the air, to scare off bullies who were threatening him with physical violence.
Since then we've fielded a number of calls from national media outlets, all of whom have been interested in elevating Dynasty's story to a larger audience. As of this afternoon, Dynasty and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, have spoken with Good Morning America, CNN's Don Lemon and MSNBC's Thomas Roberts. These pieces can be watched below.
"I had to do something to show my son, 'I'm not going to let anybody hurt you,' " said Dynasty's mother, Chelisa, in an interview with ABC News. Sending Dynasty to school with a self-protection device was a last resort. Chelisa instructed her son not to use the device against anyone, to use it only in case of an emergency, and only gave it to him after repeated attempts to encourage responsibility on part of the school administration were unsuccessful.
Dynasty told CNN's Don Lemon that the bullying he experienced went so far that he considered suicide. "It really affected my life...I was at my wit's end, I didn't know what to do and I thought about suicide," said Dynasty. "And I hate saying that word [suicide] because God blessed me with this life. I love life. And I love my education."
In an interview with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, Chelisa says school officials essentially told her "He should not be flamboyant. He's basically getting what he deserves." Educators continue to place the blame for the bullying on Dynasty, rather than focus on protecting him. School officials did so as recently as May 1, in an interview with Carrie Ritchie at The Indianapolis Star:
"If you wear female apparel, then kids are kids and they're going to say whatever it is that they want to say," said Larry Yarrell, principal of Arsenal Technical High School. "Because you want to be different and because you choose to wear female apparel, it may happen."
Bullying, like that experienced by Dynasty, is a widespread problem across the country and around the world, as evidenced by the letters of support that Dynasty and his family have received from across the globe.
According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) 2009 National School Climate Survey of 7,261 middle- and high-school students, nearly 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students experienced harassment at school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation. Nearly a third of LGBT students surveyed had skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.
Last Wednesday a hearing was held to determine if Dynasty will be expelled. A decision is expected to be announced sometime this week.
“Every child deserves the chance to learn, to grow, and to be true to themselves at school," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “No family should feel the need to resort to something like this just to keep their kids safe at school. We hope school officials will do the right thing and choose not to expel Dynasty for trying to protect himself, when his school would not.”