(SAN DIEGO) —School officials and police are beside themselves today after a 16-year-old junior at San Diego’s Patrick Henry High School was caught saying a recent shooting at his school was “gay.” The shooting, which occurred Monday, was allegedly....
Ledge Slater, DP Editor Enlarged
Wednesday, March 12th, 2014,
(SAN DIEGO) —School officials and police are beside themselves today after a 16-year-old junior at San Diego’s Patrick Henry High School was caught saying a recent shooting at his school was “gay.”
The shooting, which occurred Monday, was allegedly between two rival gangs and left six students hospitalized, with one on life-support. Authorities say the shooting in the high school’s parking lot was the result of a dispute over which gang was allowed to use a local park in which to sell drugs. Officials evacuated the school and kept it closed throughout Tuesday. However when classes resumed Wednesday, junior Eric Meltzer, 16, reportedly said to his friends, “Dudes, seriously, they’re shooting each other over who was allowed to sell drugs in a park. Dude, that’s like, so gay!”
School officials again evacuated the school and put it in lock-down while Meltzer was subdued and isolated.
When news broke of Meltzer's comment a flood of parents descended upon the school, frantically searching for their children and asking of their whereabouts. Said Bruce Eckhart, 44, the father of a freshman on the scene, “This is a very mellow, accepting community we live in. Then we have this shooting, and now with this insensitive comment by (Meltzer) we don’t know how much more this community can take.”
Meltzer has been released back into the custody of his parents and ordered to take a mandatory psychological evaluation and a week’s suspension, as well as face an extensive sensitivity and cultural diversity course. Some parents are calling for his expulsion from Patrick Henry High, but school officials say such action is unlikely.
State officials have also dispatched a fleet of child psychologists to Patrick Henry to handle the aftermath of Meltzer’s anti-gay tirade. Meltzer’s parents are reported to have already hired an attorney and have issued a written apology to GLADD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) for their son's behavior.
“We are consulting all the students, beginning with those who may have heard the ‘that’s so gay’ comment to make sure they’re coping acceptably,” said Dr. Stanley Mortensen, a local child psychologist working at Patrick Henry H.S. “But it’s amazing, despite this trauma inflicted upon the school’s gay community, all these kids want to do is talk about the shooting Monday. It’s odd. Very odd. I don’t think they’re really grasping the gravity of this situation.”
Added Mortensen, “Obviously these kids are still in a state of denial. That’s only natural for children who have endured a murderous gang shootout and an anti-gay remark. It’s just heartbreaking.”
Patrick Henry High School Principal Elizabeth Gillingham has requested a school-wide parent-teacher conference this Friday where she and school board officials will give a full briefing on Wednesday’s events. The fate of Eric Meltzer will be discussed, as well as how the school will begin to rebuild after his ‘that’s so gay’ invective.
“I can take my child’s school shootings without the intolerance, thank you very much!” said Henrietta Rivera, 40, of San Carlos. Rivera, a private piano teacher, said she has decided to remove her children, who are classmates of Meltzer's, from the school until a full psychological evaluation is done on them and that the school can ensure such incidents do not happen again.
“I refuse to allow Tucker and Hamilton to remain in this den of insensitivity until I know our school is safe for all of our kids,” Rivera said after picking her children up in a panic Wednesday. “To have a simple gang dispute evoke this sort of display of bigotry is simply, well, intolerable.”
Anxiously awaiting word outside Patrick Henry H.S., Rivera collapsed in a frenzy upon learning her son, Hamilton, was indeed in the classroom which witnessed Meltzer’s anti-homosexual rampage.
“Such a senseless comment!” sobbed Rivera. “Such a senseless act after such a quasi-if-you-take-a-moment-to-think-about-it-in-their-shoes-and-had-grown-up-in-their-neighborhood sort of other act..! I just can’t take it anymore!”
Indeed, even Governor Jerry Brown issued a press release Wednesday addressing the issue.
“The state of California will do everything possible to ensure displays of bigotry will not ensue in the wake of any shooting in our public schools,” read the press release. “Any student (dead, wounded or not) linking the dispute over gang territory to the LGBT community will not be tolerated and dealt with swiftly and severely.”
State school board officials say classes at Patrick Henry High School will continue as normal next week, however the healing has only begun.
“Whenever there is a culturally degrading comment following a school shooting which sends six kids to the hospital, one being on life-support, it really tests the resolve of our public school community,” said Jackie Magnuson, President of the San Diego County School Board to Duh Progressive, Wednesday. Magnuson said she and the school board remain steadfast in ensuring diversity and students’ sexual orientation in California’s public schools remain intact and respected, even in the face of gang shootouts.
Said Magnuson, “We have a tough road to hoe after this lone student decided to take blame into his own hands and call the motive behind this gang shooting ‘gay.’ But in time we shall overcome and we shall heal, just like the old Civil Rights hymn says.”